Mayor Tom Barrett, Health Commissioner Bevan Baker and former Planned Parenthood patient and Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor joined together to highlight the important role Planned Parenthood plays as a community health partner.

The gathering on March 22 came the day before the U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on legislation, spearheaded by Speaker Paul Ryan, to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.

If enacted, the bill would block 50,000 of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s 60,000 patients from receiving essential preventive health care like cancer screenings, STD testing, treatment and birth control. This would have a disproportionate impact on those who already face far too many barriers to health care as people of color, people who live in rural areas, or people with low incomes.

Across the state, patients living in nearly half of the counties that Planned Parenthood serves will have no alternative family planning provider to receive care from if Planned Parenthood is forced to close. Already more than 70 percent of counties Planned Parenthood serves in Wisconsin have a shortage of health care providers. There simply aren’t other health care providers that can replace Planned Parenthood.

Statement from Tanya Atkinson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin:

“Speaker Ryan’s plan would be a disaster for health care access in Milwaukee and across the state. That’s why our elected officials, public health experts and patients are taking a stand. Wisconsinites need more access to health care – not less.

“As the largest safety net health care provider in Wisconsin, no one knows better than Planned Parenthood the lack of access people in our state already face. The fact is that there is not another ready alternative health care provider who is able to absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients in Wisconsin.

“People in Wisconsin and across the country overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. In fact, 75 percent of Americans oppose efforts to block access to the essential health care Planned Parenthood provides every day. We’re proud to work in partnership with elected leaders and our community health partners to keep people in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin safe, healthy and strong.”

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is a nonprofit health care provider caring for 60,000 patients annually at 21 health centers. 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s care is preventive health services including well woman exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, HIV screening, and STD treatment.