January 26, 2014

Family planning services bill wins committee support

Bill would increase access to care and lower long-term health costs

AUGUSTA – A proposal to keep Mainers healthier and increase access to family planning services advanced in the Legislature Thursday. 

A majority of the Health and Human Services Committee members recommended the passage of the bill cosponsored by Rep. Jane Pringle, D-Windham.

The bill, LD 1247, would expand MaineCare eligibility for family planning services to Mainers with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, approximately $23,000 for a household of one.

Almost half of all pregnancies in Maine are unintended. Unintended pregnancies are associated with lower educational attainment, higher abortion rates and increased instances of abuse or neglect.

“Family planning clinics are often the only place where many women are able to receive care,” said Pringle, a member of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee and a retired physician. “By expanding availability of these services, we would increase the likelihood of detecting cervical and breast cancer among Maine women along with other potential health issues. This bill improves the health and the lives of Mainers across the state.”

The bill received strong support from prominent health and women’s rights organizations. The Maine Nurse Practitioner Association had testified in support of the bill, stating that family planning clinics also help to prevent complications such as infertility and the spread of STDs and HIV.

“As a practicing physician for 31 years in Maine and a member of the Health and Human Services committee, I strongly support this bill. It would help ensure access to family planning services in the state,” said Rep. Ann Dorney, D-Norridgewock, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Expanding access to family planning services is good for everyone, the children, the parents and society.”

All but two of the present members of the Health and Human Services Committee voted ought to pass. If you would like more information on the bill please visit: http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280048139

Pringle is serving her first term in the Legislature and represents part of Windham.

Dorney is serving her first term in the Maine House and represents Madison, Norridgewock and Solon. She is a practicing physician and member of the Health and Human Services Committee.

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