Ravalli County Health officials move to claim federal family planning funds
We have the latest on Ravalli County's controversy over federal family planning money.
Last week commissioners voted 3 to 2 not to accept federal funds: making Ravalli the first county in Montana to do so.
It was in a meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Ravalli County Administrative Center where representatives with the Ravalli County Board of Public Health voted that they would accept Title X funds should county commissioners decide not to reverse their decision.
Corvallis resident Saundra Amsden tells NBC Montana she is thrilled health board members want to accept $50,000 in federal funds and she believes the commissioners need to support them.
“These services are so vitally important,” Amsden says. “To deny so many people the services so they can survive and thrive is just wrong and it harms people, it really does.”
One resident stood up at told commissioners she urges them to reconsider their decision because she feels there are too many benefits to funding family planning.
“(Title X) is one of the most effective federal programs according to the CDC because of pregnancy and disease prevention,” she said.
Darby resident Susan Latimer says she's most concerned for the people who don't have healthcare coverage and she worries how they will afford family planning.
“I just shutter when I hear stories going around that these women have all these options because when you're there you find out really fast that you have no options,” Latimer told commissioners. “If you can’t afford it a doctor won't see you – they will turn you down they've turned me down.”
However, three of five the commissioner’s object to requirements that underage clients can get services without their parents getting notified.
Ravalli County Planning Board member Jan Wisnienski says he doesn't understand why people won't accept the commissioner's decision to deny federal funds.
“What title and authority do you have to go against the grain of the commissioners?” Wisnienski asked meeting attendees. “Why are you still pushing the issue? It's like kicking a dead horse.”
Others say a 3 to 2 vote is too close to deny hundreds of people family planning care.
“For one person to have that much power?” said one man questioningly. “There is a need for less personal agenda and perhaps more of a commitment to what is for the greater good.”
According to Ravalli County Public Health Board member Kathleen Mauer, if commissioners deny federal funds Ravalli will be the only county in the state that doesn't accept Title X benefits; Montana has 56 counties.
Ravalli County Commissioners and officials with the Ravalli County Public Health Board will be meeting this Friday at 8:00 a.m. to make a final decision on the matter.
There are a few different outcomes that meeting can have:
One is that Ravalli County Commissioners can reverse their previous vote and decide to accept federal funds.
Second, Ravalli County Commissioners can allow the Ravalli County Public Health Board to accept the Title X funds, meaning the health board would be responsible for fund delegations.
Lastly, Ravalli County Commissioners can bar the Ravalli County Public Health Board from accepting the $50,000 in funds and then Ravalli County will be the only county in the state to not have these funds.
Officials with Ravalli County Public Health are urging the public to attend Friday morning’s meeting; it will be held in the Ravalli County Administrative Office at 215 S 4th Street in Hamilton – on the 2nd floor; again the meeting is at 8:00 a.m.