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Thursday, July 16, 2009 08:22 am

Protect community health centers

How reproductive health care is dealt with in national health care reform is no small matter. And who provides this care is still to be determined.

For communities like Springfield, local health centers are where many people turn for trusted health care. Community health providers, like Planned Parenthood, often serve as an entry point for essential health care needs. And Planned Parenthood of Illinois isn’t the only health center women rely on for preventive care.

Today, one in four women who receives contraceptive care does so at a women’s health center. One in six who obtains a Pap test does so at a women’s health center, as do one third of women who receive counseling, testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This basic health care is essential, particularly during difficult economic times, to give women the tools they need to protect and support their families.

As Congress works to enact health care reform, they must make women’s health a priority and ensure that reproductive health care is covered. While this fact should be a given, the truth is that family planning and reproductive health care are still not fully part of mainstream health care, even though 98 percent of women use contraception at some point in their lives.

Protecting community health providers is also fundamental to solving provider access issues that will come with expanding coverage and ensuring Americans can access trusted providers wherever they live.

Under health care reform, women must have access to reproductive health care and their women’s health provider. Women cannot be worse off after health care reform than they are today.

How essential is your community health provider? The answer is simple — if Americans want real health reform, community health providers must be part of the plan.

Your help can make a huge impact locally and across the nation. Congressman Phil Hare (IL District 17) sits on the House Education and Labor Committee and Congressman John Shimkus (IL District 19) sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Both are playing an integral role in important health care decisions that are currently taking place in Washington, D.C. Contact Congressmen Hare and Shimkus today to insure their support for access to essential reproductive health care services.

Steve Trombley is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, which provides affordably priced high-quality reproductive health care services to women and families throughout Illinois. Through health care services, educational programs and advocacy efforts, PPIL works to ensure and protect the reproductive rights of each individual.

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