Title X: Ravalli County commissioners eliminate women's health services

2013-09-09T11:06:00Z 2013-09-19T07:42:03Z Title X: Ravalli County commissioners eliminate women's health services Ravalli Republic

For the first time in more than 40 years, Ravalli County will not provide women’s health services through the federal Title X Family Planning program.

The Ravalli County Commission voted 3-2 to refuse the funds Friday morning.

The county was slated to receive a little less than $50,000 this next fiscal year to operate the county health department’s family planning clinic, which provides birth control, annual exams, pregnancy and pap tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition education and counseling on a sliding scale for women.

Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin said the commission’s decision means that as of Sept. 30, the county will no longer offer the services paid for by the Title X funding.

The program currently has a client list of about 400 women, mostly of low income.

The commission has been divided over its support for the program over the past few years, including a 3-2 vote earlier this year to accept partial funding for the program.

The vote for fiscal year 2014 funding was slated to occur Thursday morning.

After the board deadlocked 2-2, a motion was made to reconvene the meeting on Friday when Commissioner Suzy Foss was slated to return.

Commission Chairman Jeff Burrows said it was his understanding the board did not have to provide public notice when it continues a meeting from one day to the next.

Burrows said a handful of people at the meeting spoke out against the county accepting the federal funds. One person spoke in favor of the program.

In earlier votes, Foss had supported the program, albeit with some hesitation.

On Friday, commissioners Burrows, Foss and Ron Stoltz voted against accepting the funds. Commissioners J.R. Iman and Greg Chilcott voted to support the program.

Foss didn’t return a phone call Friday asking about her vote.

Burrows said later that while he supported most of the services provided by the family planning clinic, he was opposed to the program’s insistence that minors be served without parents first being notified.

“That issue of government stepping in between the child and parent relationship is the big one for me,” Burrows said.

Burrows said he didn’t like the idea that strings were attached to the funding and the commission was being forced to take the bad with the good.

The commission will look at the potential of finding funding to provide some of the services that the clinic has offered in the past, he said.

“Right now, I don’t know the legalities of the county being able to fund public heath, but if the county has some available funding for services that I feel are worthwhile, I would be for taking that to the board and trying to keep some services,” he said.

Chilcott said the issue of government stepping between parent and child in the Title X program has always been challenging for the commission.

“Unfortunately, Congress has put some nasty barbs in the bait with Title X funding,” Chilcott said.

Services like screening for cancers, STDs, HIV and reproductive health issues are important for the community, especially for those who can’t afford them,” he said.

“The board has had to weigh the costs versus the benefits,” he said. “In this case, the majority of the board found the social costs were more of a liability than the benefits are worth.”

Chilcott agreed the commission would probably look at the potential of the county providing some of the services the board agrees are beneficial to the citizens and taxpayers.

Griffin said she was “shocked” when told of the commission’s decision to defund the program Friday.

“There will be a lot of low-income people who will have to look for alternatives to the services we have provided for years,” Griffin said. “It’s hard for a lot of people to go to Missoula to access those services.”

Three years ago, when it appeared as though the commission would make a similar decision, Griffin said Planned Parenthood expressed interest in accepting the Title X funding for Ravalli County.

“I don’t know where they stand at this point,” she said. “It certainly would be an alternative.”

At this point, Griffin said her office will begin contacting the clinic’s 400 clients to let them know the services would no longer be available in Hamilton after September.

“We’ve had generations of people coming through this office to get birth control, counseling and other services,” she said. “It’s a huge concern for all of us on where those people are going to go for those services now.”

“We do want everyone to know that we totally appreciate the past and present support of the local medical community and from commissioners Chilcott and Iman,” she said.

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

Copyright 2015 Ravalli Republic. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(38) Comments

  1. blodgett view
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    blodgett view - September 15, 2013 12:05 pm
    There seems to be some confusion by the three county commissioners and those who support their decision to refuse these funds that the "strings" on them will not allow parents any access to their children and their desire to access information about contraception. This is not true. Out of all of the minors who used the clinic's services last year, only one underage girl came in without a parent. This was part of the discussion that was held in an open meeting on June 27th, when the vote to accept a small amount of Title X money was taken.
    The parents are not blocked at the door. However, if a minor girl wants to take the initiative to access birth control or even information about sexually transmitted diseases without them, it is currently her right. There has been considerable discussion about whether an under age child should be able to act responsibly or if her parents have the right to strictly control her actions. Frankly, I would much rather have my teen aged daughter come to me to ask forgiveness for using birth control than to come to me to tell me she is pregnant.
    The benefits of keeping this clinic open far outweigh the perceived "moral and spiritual" reasons the commissioners are giving.
    Suzy Foss's desire to fund raise for replacement funds from the local churches is wrought with problems, the inability for faith based organizations to run government programs first and foremost. Ms. Foss, please reconsider your vote. You've made your position clear, but the damage to our community your vote has caused has become glaringly obvious. All of the clients with abnormal pap smears and suspicious breast lumps that are being notified as we argue depend on these services. Many years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a Title X clinic. It saved her life.
  2. Sanity
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    Sanity - September 13, 2013 9:39 pm
    So let me get this straight: Commissioners say no to money that is already paid for by us the taxpayer. Now they are asking that we "donate" or subsidize this on the back of the taxpayer at a local level just so they can implement their ideology the way they want?

    I'm all for parental notification of abortions, but what do you say to the kids who have abusive parents? Or like someone else said, the kid who was a victim of incest? I certainly don't see the county beefing up child protective services or mental health departments. Not everyone girl in town has parents that they can go talk to about this over breakfast and tea.
  3. Lee Enfield
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    Lee Enfield - September 13, 2013 12:52 pm

    I hope you notice that, so far at 35 comments, except for David, who made a moronic, unfunny joke and some unintelligible comment to me about church, you are all alone in supporting these brain-dead commissioners.
  4. Bitterroot Billy
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    Bitterroot Billy - September 12, 2013 4:14 pm
    It may even be worse than that. Along with all of us continuing paying taxes for Title X that these 3 nimrods now won't let the women of Ravalli county have access to, Burrows and Queen Foss are looking to replace it with private medical interests that we would most likely have to subsidize with Ravalli County taxes that in the end will result in less women's health services to boot. Absolute sheer stupidity.
  5. Rusty Shackleford
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    Rusty Shackleford - September 12, 2013 10:26 am
    Anyone that thinks this action (or any other recent action) is fiscally responsible, nothe this: NONE of our taxes will drop as a result. We pay for Title X funds, and the Board decided that our County should not benefit from the funds we pay in. That is about as fiscally irresponsible as it gets. I have said it before and I will say it again: we need to elect commissioners that have qualifications, not rigid alliances to ideologies.

    R. Shackleford
  6. EODS
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    EODS - September 12, 2013 2:12 am
    A job building homes for hundreds of job-seeking families - families with no access to affordable family planning - will be a very temporary job.

    As for Title X. Idealism, whether left of right, doesn't work in real life. We're human, and we make mistakes.... as parents, as children, as commissioners, as voters. Luckily, sometimes we can correct our mistakes.
  7. Rick
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    Rick - September 11, 2013 7:10 pm
    Bill; Parents have a right to know if they're underage children are sexually active, on birth control, or are getting an abortion. We're not going anywhere either Bill, so get used to that. This is an issue of parental rights, it has nothing to do with religion. Parents have every right to know and be a part of their children's actions, regardless of what those actions might be. Why would you allow a 14 year old girl get birth control without notifying her parents? Don't you think the parents have a right to teach their children to abstain from sex or to teach them safe sex? You're right about it not being a perfect world, but removing parents from the decisions made by their children certainly doesn't make it any better.
  8. commuter
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    commuter - September 11, 2013 4:57 pm
    You have to admire the fortitude of these commisioners, NO one is going to tell them what to do - not the federal government (see - Title X: Ravalli County commissioners eliminate women's health services), the USFS (see - Ravalli County commissioners object to USFS water rights claim) or even BY GAWD the public (see - Legacy Ranch).
    Even in this economy idiots can find a job.
  9. oldfish
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    oldfish - September 11, 2013 3:01 pm
    I'm sure all conservatives would want incest victims to have parental permission before they could be tested for STDs or pregnancy just as YOUR god planned.
  10. Highlander
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    Highlander - September 11, 2013 2:53 pm
  11. blodgett view
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    blodgett view - September 11, 2013 12:43 pm
    Bitterrooters: TODAY, at 3pm, the Ravalli County Commission will be meeting (215 S. 4th St, 3rd floor). This meeting is likely to include a report by the public health nurse about the impact and plans for the 400 patients losing their family planning services. If you can make it to the meeting and comment in support of this critical program, please do so. And many apologies for the short notice. (Keep those calls coming too: 375-6500).
  12. NoLie
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    NoLie - September 11, 2013 12:08 pm
    Lame, and not funny, David. The fact that you would use the term "Femanazis" tells us more about your actual attitude than any weak claim that you are joking.
  13. blodgett view
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    blodgett view - September 11, 2013 12:05 pm
    At the previous discussion about accepting the Title X funds, the commissioners freely discussed the fact that only one(!) minor girl came into the office to gather information about birth control without her mother last year. At that time, Suzy Foss lamented the fact that none of the local churches accepted her challenge to step in to replace the funds that the commissioners had such heartburn about accepting.
    Now, I see Suzy on the local news last night offering her "solution" to her self imposed problem of replacing those funds that have provided not only birth control information, but sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment for both men and women and cancer screenings for nearly 400 Ravalli County citizens who have no other access to healthcare. She is now asking the residents of Ravalli County to step up and donate to the cause. Are her donors of the same opinion as those fake "abortion alternative" clinics who, with their "holier than thou" attitudes, deny appropriate healthcare with the promise that Jesus will provide a way? The majority of the Ravalli County commissioners have decided to cherry pick the Constitution and the will of the founding fathers by willfully ignoring the separation of church and state.
  14. bill LaCroix
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    bill LaCroix - September 11, 2013 9:13 am
    In response to "Rick"and all those who wonder how these people were given power over low-income women in our community: These politicians are not "conservatives" in any sense of the word. They are regimentally-minded extremists, forcing their will on others whenever they have the slightest opening, just like lotta "parents" of kids needing Family Planning services, Rick. But when the opening is being a commissioner who has hoodwinked the public into being labeled a "conservative", there are plenty of openings indeed, n'est pas? All you have to do is take a glance at the ugly news coming out of the Mideast to see how their flavor of religious rigidity is working out when applied to whole countries. The reason they were voted in was because enuff of us have internalized extremist messages, like nominal "conservative" Greg Chilcott who opined that "Unfortunately Congress put some nasty barbs in the bait with Title X funding". Greg actually did his job by voting for the funding, while simultaneously reinforcing the extremist message by repeating a teabag stupidity. No other word for it, since the "nasty barb" Greg complains about is nothing less than our Constitution, which guarantees these women that properly vetted healthcare which we all pay for. To offer anything less is discriminatory, and he knows it, But when we as a voting community internalize such messages, we are condemning ourselves to suffering fools. Really we shouldn't be putting up with it.
    So Rick, save the talking points on how enviro-wolves are starting job-killing forest fires and eating babies. We know you guys love your freedom while not loving ours. But here's a little new info for you: We "leftists" aren't going anywhere you're not. Get used to it, and consider using the english language (which the Constitution and Declaration were written in) correctly.
  15. Highlander
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    Highlander - September 11, 2013 8:43 am
    Because there is a POSSIBILITY that a minor may get women's health care without parental consent, the county commissioners are ending Federal funding for the program.
    Imagine, there is also the POSSIBILITY the minor child is a victim of family sexual abuse, neglect or poverty.
    What happens to the rest of the clients that are being dismissed? This $50,000.00 is not coming out of the county commissioner's pocket, that money will go somewhere else.
    Please remember who's who on election day.
  16. Sgt_Sapper
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    Sgt_Sapper - September 11, 2013 8:29 am
    Rick, you believe all that nonsense coming out of your mouth? I have a bridge to sell you in Albuquerque.
  17. Lee Enfield
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    Lee Enfield - September 11, 2013 8:11 am

    I've got news for you. We "leftists" think it's more important for a minor girl to have access to birth control than to get pregnant.

    Another news flash for you: Girls under the age of 18 are going to have sex. In a perfect world, they will consult with their parents first, get the necessary birth control method and THEN have sex.

    Well, Rick, this ain't no perfect world.

    No logical person can oppose birth control AND be anti-abortion. They are mutually exclusive positions.

    I can't wait for my opportunity to vote these self-serving zealots out of office.

  18. David
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    David - September 11, 2013 7:43 am
    Low income woman in our county dont need access to women's health services, They need to learn to cook and clean. Come on guys. Joking of course. Dont need you Femanazis throwing a fit.
  19. David
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    David - September 11, 2013 7:40 am
    LOL, I dont think that will help getting democrats in this valley elected. Lee if you want more dems in office I would try the church thing out.
  20. Livinitupinmt
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    Livinitupinmt - September 11, 2013 1:48 am
    County Commissioners You Should Be ashamed of yourselves!

    Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. For more than 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others.
    For more than 40 years, Title X family planning centers have provided high quality and cost-effective family planning and related preventive health services for low-income women and men. Family planning centers play a critical role in ensuring access to voluntary family planning information and services for their clients based on their ability to pay
    Title X family planning centers help to avert an estimated one million unintended pregnancies
    Cervical cancer screening. More than 1.5 million screenings were performed in Title X service sites. About 15% of these tests had a result indicating a precancerous or cancerous condition needing further evaluation or possible treatment, including 1% that indicated the presence of a more serious condition.
    Undeserved communities. 91% of clients had incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty level
    Age. The majority of clients were in their 20s (51%). 28% were age 30 or over and 21% were 19 and under
  21. Livinitupinmt
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    Livinitupinmt - September 11, 2013 1:35 am
    AGREE !!!!!
  22. Livinitupinmt
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    Livinitupinmt - September 11, 2013 1:35 am
    I totally agree with all these comments! I heard about this earlier today and was in disbelief

    As a foster parent that had 2 foster teenage girls (as well as 2 teenage nieces and many teenage girls that I know that come to me because they have no one else to talk with) I have to stand up for them in the FACT that NOT all teenagers have parents/adults to talk to or feel SAFE talking to their parents..sadly the commissioners believe that ALL teenagers have parents/adults that are there for them..

    From what I also understood at the meeting last year when they opened this up to the public, was that a majority of the clients who use these services are 18 and older, low income and depend on these services to help with important testing

    Really is such a Shame and kind of sad.. Maybe a silly question I don't know, but can't help but wonder....Isn't there any way we as the public/community can ban together and over turn this decision?

  23. mt-horsegirl
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    mt-horsegirl - September 10, 2013 6:47 pm
    Shame on you Suzy Foss, Feff Burrows, and Ron Stoltz for voting to decline the Title X funding for Ravalli County, and denying access to over 400 clients- both women and men to health education, family planning, STD prevention/treatment, and contraception. Title X provides significant cost savings to taxpayers. In 2008, every every public dollar spent on contraceptive services yielded an estimated $3.74 in savings that would have been spent on Medicaid costs related to pregnancy care and delivery and to infants in their first year of life.(http://www.hhs.gov/opa/title-x-family-planning/index.html). By cancelling these services, you have opened the door to other providers such as Planned Parenthood or Blu Mountain Clinic - which may expand services to include those which you profess to oppose. Additionally, you cite your opposition stems from the desire not to support adolescents ability to seek reproductive care without parental consent, though the Montana statues allow for this access!! How dare you think yourselves above the law of the land!!
  24. Rick
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    Rick - September 10, 2013 5:02 pm
    Our commissioners voted this down because they believe, as do other conservatives, that children under the age of 18 are the responsibility of their parents, not the state. They should have to get their parents permission to obtain birth control or abortions. The commissioners passed the Legacy Subdivision because the developers were not breaking any laws and the county needs the jobs. You leftists have fought ALL development in the valley and in the process, have left nothing for a future but a dependence on the state for a living and generational poverty instead of jobs. Protecting your view is obviously more important than letting us work and provide a future for our kids. Too bad for you all that we voted in conservative commissioners that actually represent the working class instead of destroying it. After the destruction of hundreds of homes and our environment by forest fires fueled by beetle kill trees that leftists oppose harvesting, folks are beginning to see their true agenda of controlling people's lives regardless of consequence. Glad to see the leftist rule starting to crumble. Now if we can stop the printing and spending so our kids won't have to pay the interest on leftist greed and excess, we can finally give our kids a future outside of paying for someone else's debt.
  25. kimberlym
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    kimberlym - September 10, 2013 2:55 pm
    How in the world did we vote these deadbeats in. Will certainly remember next voting time.
    No jobs and now no health service either.
  26. Sanity
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    Sanity - September 10, 2013 2:42 pm
    Bigskyrider is right. This decision is "penny-wise, pound-foolish." I am confused that a woman actually voted against keeping these services available. So much for empathy for the poor in this county. What a shame. Shame on all you Commissioners that voted to remove these services. When do we get to elect you all out of office?
  27. Sgt_Sapper
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    Sgt_Sapper - September 10, 2013 12:35 pm
    The commissioners who voted against women's rights have no pride. Breaking the US Constitution just because they can get away with it points them out to be the scum they are.
  28. Sgt_Sapper
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    Sgt_Sapper - September 10, 2013 12:33 pm
    remember, remember the 10th of September.
  29. mtpromises
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    mtpromises - September 10, 2013 12:13 pm
    so when is the next election? we really need to elect some people onto the commission who are critical thinkers next time doncha think?
    Bitterroot Billy has it right! good comment!
  30. Orion
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    Orion - September 10, 2013 9:03 am
    And these commissioners call themselves Christians. What abonimable hypocrisy.
  31. bigskyrider
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    bigskyrider - September 09, 2013 10:44 pm
    Commissioners Burrows, Foss and Stolz may consider themselves social conservatives but they are certainly not fiscal conservatives. The cost to us taxpayers for one child born to a low income woman who does not have the financial resources to raise that child will cost us MUCH more than the $50,000 they are refusing. They are also not our representatives. As commissioners it is their responsibility to consider the needs of all their constituents, not just their wealthy campaign contributors or their pious "holier than thou" supporters. The poor need their compassion more than those folks, and their votes to refuse Title X funds are definitely not compassionate conservatism. Those three people are just plain mean.
  32. Sky bird
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    Sky bird - September 09, 2013 9:03 pm
    Morons. Why do politicians in Ravalli County always play god? They just robbed the citizens of $50,000 worth of services. Who votes these clowns in?
  33. NoLie
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    NoLie - September 09, 2013 7:34 pm
    Words cannot express my disgust at the stupidity of this decision. Two right-wing yahoos and an entitled, privileged woman deny necessary services to poor women. It's about controlling kids? Baloney. It's about power and forcing others to live by the Commissioners' religious and political ideology. It's about misogyny and ignorance. Most of all, it's about refusing to look at facts and living in some cultish, tea-party dream of a world that never was and never will be. These people are wreckers and the sooner the voters of Ravalli County get tired of their antics, the better.
  34. bearpaws
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    bearpaws - September 09, 2013 7:01 pm
    And because of a simple, narrow perception that "strings were attached" to vital services, disadvantaged women are left out in the cold. Cruel way to look at things, Ravalli County. How's your pride down there?
  35. oldfish
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    oldfish - September 09, 2013 3:15 pm
    What a bunch of wackos and county commissioners. to boot Who cares about those 400 women who won't get care now. We wouldn't want those young incest victims, getting pregnancy tests or an STD test without notifying the parents! Ravalli county's head remains in that very dark place.
  36. FarmerJane
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    FarmerJane - September 09, 2013 1:17 pm
    Each time a client is in need of services that were cut, they should call one of the commissioners to let them know.
  37. Bitterroot Billy
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    Bitterroot Billy - September 09, 2013 12:20 pm
    Expand the airport so the rich and elite can land their private jets there?
    Sure, no problem.

    Give rich developers the ok to plant 600+ houses next to Lee Metcalf?
    Sure, no problem.

    Make sure low income woman in our county has access to women's health services?
    Nah, throw them under the bus.

    What a pathetic group of commisioners we have.

  38. Lee Enfield
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    Lee Enfield - September 09, 2013 11:44 am
    Remember this on election day.
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