BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) -- Maryland becomes the only state to stand behind Planned Parenthood with a funding plan. Political reporter Pat Warren has details on the state's new safety net.
It's a bill for the state to step in the event that feds pass a law to pull funding.
The measure was enacted Thursday after Gov. Larry Hogan decided not to veto the bill. Like 14 other bills, it went into effect after a midnight deadline without the Republican governor's signature. The Democrat-led General Assembly passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto.
Planned Parenthood is a hot-button issue, and with a move to defund it in congress. A week ago, Maryland lawmakers took a stand to fill the gap should the federal government back out.
"People, especially poor women, will be at risk in the state of Maryland if congress succeeds in denying them access to this one provider," says Senator Richard Madeleno, a Democrat from Montgomery County.
That risk is essentially now eliminated as the bill passed by the legislature became law without the governor's signature.
Planned Parenthood president Karen Nelson tells WJZ, the General Assembly has done what's necessary.
"In today's political environment, Planned Parenthood is grateful for the support of our state legislature," Nelson said. "As Marylanders, we must remember that a state solution does not change the fact that politicians in Congress are trying to prohibit millions of people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood."
"I know our patients are going to be grateful to them for fighting for them and their ability to continue to see a provider they've been going to for years and a provider that they choose," says Karen Nelson with Planned Parenthood.
Supporters say it will help protect access to preventative care services for nearly 25,000 Planned Parenthood patients at nine health centers in the state if the federal government cuts funding.
The measure, which takes effect July 1, would direct $2 million from Maryland's Medicaid budget and $700,000 for the state's general fund to family-planning services.
"The women are going to be better off here in the state of Maryland thanks to the Maryland legislators," says Nelson.
Despite the Republican failure last month to repeal Barack Obama's health care law, Democratic lawmakers in other states have pressed forward with efforts to protect access to birth control and preventative care in case of future federal cuts to Planned Parenthood.
In Nevada, state lawmakers and health advocates have promoted bills to allow women to access 12-month supplies of birth control and require all health insurers to cover contraceptives at no extra charge. Another Nevada proposal would provide alternative funding to help organizations like Planned Parenthood.
In Oregon, lawmakers have been considering a bill to require health insurers to cover a full range of services, drugs and products related to reproductive health, including contraceptives, with no co-pay or deductible.
Again, this is only a contingency in case the federal government stops reimbursement for preventive care. The funds are not for abortion.
Monday is the final day of the 2017 General Assembly session.
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