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Las Vegas, NV -  U.S. Sen. Dean Heller made several false statements on Live and Local with Kevin Wall, a Nevada radio show, about how Planned Parenthood receives federal funding and what Planned Parenthood uses that federal funding for.

During the radio interview, Heller falsely tried to claim that Planned Parenthood health centers “use [federal Medicaid reimbursement] dollars for two purposes. One is to perform abortions and number two, they use it to run ads against people that are conservative.”

That is absolutely false.

First, no federal funding goes toward abortion. Planned Parenthood health centers operate just like other Medicaid providers –– they are reimbursed when a patient comes in for cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment and annual exams.

As Lewis Morris, a former HHS official, stated in an op-ed, “The federal healthcare system (including individual healthcare providers and hospital providers, as well as state and federal Medicaid administrators and auditors), takes compliance with the prohibition against federal funding of abortion services very seriously. To suggest otherwise does a disservice to an informed debate about healthcare reform.”

Second, federal funding is also not spent on ads. Again, Planned Parenthood health centers operate just like other Medicaid providers –– they are reimbursed when a patient comes in for cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment and annual exams. Planned Parenthood is not a line item in the budget, nor does it get a blank check from the government. Federal funds do not go towards Planned Parenthood’s advocacy work.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Nevadans are tired of politicians like Sen. Dean Heller lying about Planned Parenthood and attacking women’s health and rights.

“As Sen. Heller knows full and well, federal funding ensures that patients are able to access preventive care, like birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other services Planned Parenthood provides.  

“Just last month, Sen. Heller voted yes on the the worst bill for women in a generation — by doing so, he also voted to block millions from accessing birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers, voted to increase premiums by 20 percent, and voted to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans. No amount of lies about Planned Parenthood can change Sen. Heller’s shameful vote against women’s health and rights.

“Nevadans want Sen. Heller to stand up for his constituents. Instead, they have a politician who panders to partisan proposals that ultimately hurt Nevadans.   

“More than 16,000 Nevadans depend on Planned Parenthood for preventive health care, and nearly six in 10 Nevadans support Planned Parenthood. Sen. Heller can expect to continue to hear from his constituents about the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing care to Nevadans.

In another lie during the radio interview, Sen. Heller also wrongly claims that community health centers can pick up the slack.

Health and medical experts agree: Other providers cannot absorb Planned Parenthood’s patient base if it is cut off from Medicaid or other federal programs — according to numerous studies and reports — since in many places there are no other providers patients could turn to. Even when there are other providers, they do not provide reproductive health care or do not have the capacity to absorb additional patients.

In Nevada, specifically, Planned Parenthood health centers served 3 times more family planning patients than FQHCs did in 2015, despite being outnumbered by FQHCs 7-to-1. Indeed, Planned Parenthood health centers served 36% of all family planning patients served by publicly funded providers in Nevada.

Notably, in both Clark County and Washoe County, Planned Parenthood health centers served nearly half of all patients seeking family planning services at publicly funded providers in 2015.

Experts at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women & Families said it flat-out: They can't fill the gap. Even Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, has called such claims “ludicrous.” Even community health centers themselves have spoken out about the vital role Planned Parenthood plays in their communities, and have said they could not fill the gap left by Planned Parenthood.

A powerful editorial in the Washington Post underscores the devastating impact of blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood: “Of all the magical thinking that has gone into Republican proposals to replace Obamacare, none has been more fanciful than the argument accompanying efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. In truth, millions of women would lose access to critical health care.”


Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.