Planned Parenthood closes three clinics in Northern California

Planned Parenthood will close three clinics in Northern California at the end of June to consolidate dwindling financial resources, the organization confirmed this week.

Locations in Vacaville, Pittsburg and central Richmond will close June 30, according to Miriam Gerace, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Northern California. The affiliate organization serves 100,000 people a year at 23 health care sites across 20 counties in Northern California, from San Francisco to Del Norte County. The national organization has faced major defunding threats since President Donald Trump’s election, and could lose federal funding under the proposed American Health Care Act.

In California, clinics have been struggling for years with low reimbursement rates from the state Medi-Cal program, Gerace said. Because Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health and general health care to many uninsured and publicly insured patients, the organization has found it hard to meet the need for services, she said.

“Our Medicaid reimbursement rates are very, very low,” she said. For all of our centers, we really need that support on the state level. We’ve gotten great support from legislators in our service area. Every elected official in our area has voiced support, but the funding needs to be there.”

Earlier this month, the organization rallied at the Capitol against low Medi-Cal rates, which Gov. Jerry Brown has not restored since a 10 percent cut in 2011. Planned Parenthood was among several groups that supported the recent state tobacco tax, which will funnel extra dollars to reimburse providers.

In 2014, California had the third-lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the nation, falling behind only New Jersey and Rhode Island, according to a report from Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Urban Institute. The spike in Medi-Cal enrollees under the Affordable Care Act was so overwhelming that some physicians stopped accepting Medi-Cal patients altogether.

To ensure financial sustainability going forward, Planned Parenthood Northern California is focusing on shuttering urban centers, because patients there have other clinics nearby. The organization will use the savings to expand services at rural clinics, Gerace said.

“We’ve started to look at different regions and the different needs by region,” she said. “This is something that happens all the time – you look around, you see where you can adjust. We’ve been around for 100 years and we’ll be around for 100 more.”

Anti-abortion organization Californians for Life celebrated the closures in a press release Tuesday.

“Women are deciding to go elsewhere for their health care needs and therefore, we will likely see even more Planned Parenthood locations close in California and across the nation,” said director Wynette Sills in the statement.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola