October 5, 2012 — The Oklahoma Department of Health will not renew a contract with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to provide services through the federal Women, Infants and Children program in the Tulsa area, the Tulsa World reports. WIC provides food vouchers for low-income pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, and infants and children younger than age five.
State officials said they did not renew the contract because of a large decrease in caseloads, problematic billing practices and high costs per participant at PPH facilities. The state said a January 2011 audit found problems with how PPH documented and billed certain costs (Muchmore, Tulsa World, 10/5).
PPH's clinics received a total of $454,000 from the contract this year, according to the AP/USA Today (Murphy, AP/USA Today, 10/4).
According to an analysis of state data by the World, PPH's three clinics in Tulsa County handled 16.6% of the 166,259 WIC cases in the county from October 2011 to July 2012. The caseload for PPH's clinics decreased from 38,884 participants in 2011 to 27,550 in 2012.
The state said the Tulsa Health Department -- the county's largest WIC provider -- will be able to absorb participants who currently receive services through PPH. One of the PPH clinics was the only WIC provider in the Tulsa area open on Saturdays.
Planned Parenthood Response
PPH CEO Jill June said the contract termination was politically motivated and that the organization did not receive "substantial documents following the audit voicing any concerns with our program."
"The unclear reasoning and poor justification for eliminating access to WIC services for women and children through Planned Parenthood is backed by a political ideology to get rid of Planned Parenthood," June said in a statement, adding, "If this shortsighted decision stands, mothers and young children will be forced to bear the consequences."
PPH's clinics do not provide abortion services and instead offer abortion referrals (Tulsa World, 10/5).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership