State officials will be keeping a close watch over a new state-run family planning program under an initiative unveiled at a statehouse committee this week.
The Department of Human Services will be gathering data to determine how services are affected now that Planned Parenthood clinics aren’t included.
The new state program provides family planning services including contraception at clinics around the state, but only those that don’t offer abortions.
Adult Children and Family Services Director Wendy Rickman briefed the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee.
She said DHS will compare the old program to the new one in a number of ways.
“How many recipients do we have, how many providers do we have, what services are being accessed,” Rickman said, “so we can give legislators a good view as we go back into session on how this change is working.”
“I want to thank you for putting together a way to monitor how things are going,” replied Sen. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque.)
Critics of the new program say without Planned Parenthood participating, some services such as contraceptives may be harder to get.
Sen. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) compared Iowa’s new program to a similar initiative in Texas.
“They saw a drop of 41 percent in those who got contraception,” Jochum said.
Jochum said in Texas, the number of providers went up, but capacity went down.
Rickman agrees that should be tracked.
“Sometimes I may be eligible for something but can’t get to it,” Rickman said. “Or some providers have been registered with us but aren’t providing the service to folks.”
DHS is also seeking input from advocates on both sides of the abortion issue on what additional data should be collected, including unplanned pregnancies.
Representatives from the Family Planning Council and Right-to-Life will be included in those discussions.
“Our intent is to get all these groups together to come to some consensus on what we're going to measure going forward so that when we come back to you next session, we're not arguing about this set of data or that set of data,” Rickman said.