Massachusetts Governor Vows to Shield Planned Parenthood Funding


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The Planned Parenthood office in Boston. Gov. Charlie Baker has promised that Massachusetts will plug holes in the budget of the organization’s state chapter if Congress blocks the use of Medicaid funding.

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Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker has promised that Massachusetts will plug any holes in the budget of the state chapter of Planned Parenthood if Congress moves to block the use of Medicaid funding for treatment at the women’s health care organization.

The move by Mr. Baker, a Republican governor of a Democratic-leaning state, is intended, in part, to signal the gap between his positions and those of the Republican-controlled Congress, many of whose members oppose Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions.

Federal laws already prohibit federal money from being used for abortion, but currently allow Medicaid to cover other services, like screening and treatment for cancers and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

“Governor Baker is a strong supporter of women’s health and believes the commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure access to the important health care services offered by Planned Parenthood in all corners of our state,” the governor’s spokeswoman, Lizzy Guyton, said in a statement on Friday. “The administration is prepared to fund these services should the federal government pursue changes that would block care for women and families here in Massachusetts.”

Currently, about $2 million of the Massachusetts group’s $21.5 million budget comes from reimbursements for services to Medicaid patients. That money covers treatments for some 10,000 patients a year, about a third of its total, Planned Parenthood officials said.

“At a time when extreme politicians in Congress want to block millions of people from accessing essential preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers, it is reassuring to see Governor Baker put the health and well-being of our communities ahead of politics,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, chief executive of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

As the governor of a liberal-leaning state that was the first in the nation to legalize gay marriage more than a decade ago, Mr. Baker has on social issues taken many positions to the left of national Republicans. Last year, he signed a law protecting the rights of transgender people, and he also supports abortion rights.

Even so, the willingness to step in to fill a potential budget gap for Planned Parenthood is a pronounced move for Mr. Baker, a former health care executive who has made reining in the state’s budget a major goal of his administration.

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