Lone Star Circle of Care Proud of Family-Planning Program

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 18, 2006

Dear Editor,
    In response to Jordan Smith's “Planned Parenthood Slashed Again" [News] article, dated Oct. 6, in which she mentions my organization, Lone Star Circle of Care:
    Midway through the initial family-planning grant cycle, it was apparent that we would not be able to spend the entire award; therefore we returned one-third of our funds to be redistributed appropriately. After the redistribution, LSCC successfully spent 100% of our Title X funds and 67% of our Title XX funds for the initial grant cycle, a total of $314,000. This grant period ended Aug. 31, 2006, so Ms. Smith's assertion that we had only spent 10% of the funds by July 11 does not accurately reflect our performance.
    We did not receive more funds than requested for the second grant cycle, despite Ms. Smith's reporting. Unlike our first application, we had eight months of experience with the program and had a baseline for our 2006-2007 projections; we fully expect to spend 100% of the $598,000 we requested and received to serve 3,600 family-planning patients.
    In just 10 months, we have built a family-planning panel of 1,090 patients. Because we are an FQHC, these patients have access to a multitude of services beyond their family-planning needs, including medical, dental, mental health, chronic disease management, low-cost medications, and comprehensive OB/GYN care led by a full-time obstetrician who provides prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. We are a medical home to uninsured and underinsured people in need. This year we will serve more than 13,000 patients.
    I am proud of the work LSCC has been able to accomplish in our two years as an FQHC and four years of existence and am confident that our family-planning program will continue to flourish.
Pete Perialas, CEO
Lone Star Circle of Care
   [Jordan Smith responds: I am pleased to hear that local FQHC Lone Star Circle of Care (formerly Georgetown Community Clinic) is steadily building its family planning clientele, an important step for ensuring that needy women do not slip through the reproductive health-care net as a result of last year's legislative decision to reprioritize family-planning funding allocations in order to fund all FQHCs first – including the newest providers, like LSCC – before funding traditional providers, like Planned Parenthood. I've neither implied or asserted that FQHCs are unworthy of funding, or are somehow incapable of providing these fundamental health-care services. Rather, I take issue with the political motivation behind the funding shift, which has created a bizarre environment in which entities that should be partners in providing women's health-care services are now pitted against one another for funding. That is unconscionable. Indeed, LSCC was one of a number of providers that returned funding to the Department of State Health Services at midyear because they were unable to use the funds as expected. This does not mean the FQHCs are bad, but it does expose a flaw inherent in the decision to so radically shift funding priorities in such a short period of time. Although those FY06 funds were reallocated, the damage to many non-FQHC providers, such as Planned Parenthood, was already done: Clinic hours and services were drastically cut, meaning some women in need were left without care – and no midyear reallocation could correct that. As to whether LSCC received more funding than it initially requested for FY07: The funding amounts I reported were taken directly from DSHS documents, which note LSCC requested "less than level funding" for FY07. Nonetheless, DSHS-prepared spreadsheets ultimately show LSCC was granted additional funds, for an FY07 total of $598,500.]
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