Health funding bill bans county health agencies from providing abortion information
Lansing — A House-Senate committee approved a $19.6 billion Community Health budget proposal Wednesday that would prohibit public health departments from providing information on abortion while continuing funding for a graduate medical program and rural medicine.
The proposal will be put to a vote before the full House and Senate before heading to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. The governor had proposed eliminating the funding for graduate medical education to train new doctors.
The Community Health budget plan was approved unanimously by the bipartisan conference committee. State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, said he supported the plan because it would protect graduate medical education, while providing money for Alzheimer’s Disease research, hospice care for the homeless and other health needs.
“There is plenty of good in this budget,” Hertel told the committee. “The good does outweigh the bad.”
Rep. Robert VerHeulen, R-Walker, chairman of the conference committee, noted the plan would boost funding for hospitals and maternal health care in rural areas.
“We heard testimony that some of our rural hospitals were stopping some of those (OBGYN) services, so pregnant moms would have to travel great distances,” VerHuelen said following the vote.
Hertel proposed three amendment amendments to restore the ability of public health departments to provide abortion information, but the amendments failed in the Republican-dominated committee.
Hertel said the prohibition would endanger funding Michigan’s county health departments receive from the federal Title X program, which pays for family planning counseling, birth control and related services.
“My amendments were to strike the language that puts (federal) family planning dollars in jeopardy,” Hertel said following the vote.
A conference committee on the budget of $12 billion for K-12 public schools, the last major piece of the state’s 2016 spending plan, is scheduled for Tuesday. Already approved is $393 million from the school aid fund for community colleges.
Staff Writer Gary Heinlein contributed.