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Sacramento Planned Parenthood Pleads for More Budget Support

The height of the budget season is just weeks away in Sacramento, and there are lots of grounds looking for money. Planned Parenthood, for instance, says it needs more funding from the state because i

Sacramento Planned Parenthood Pleads for More Budget Support

The height of the budget season is just weeks away in Sacramento, and there are lots of grounds looking for money. Planned Parenthood, for instance, says it needs more funding from the state because it's already turning away thousands of people who need help every month. Jenny O'Mara reports.

At Planned Parenthood's recent rally day, supporters got ready to visit with lawmakers. Among them was Bridget Mabunga, a 32-year-old who says for years Planned Parenthood clinics served as her place for primary care.

Mabunga : Depending on whether or not I was in college -- or, often I was working in jobs where I didn't have health insurance -- it was my only form of health care, actually.

Organizers say while Planned Parenthood is well-known for offering controversial services like birth control measures and abortions, much of their work is providing primary care, such as cancer screenings -- largely to Medi-Cal patients.

The President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Kathy Kneer says their nurses and providers are leaving for better-paying jobs, and they can't compete. That's forcing them to cut services.

Kneer : Statewide we're turning away 10,000 patients a month, 120,000 patients a year.

Kneer says the organization is seeking an increase in the state budget to raise the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate used to pay doctors and nurses. She says it's stayed about the same since 1985. But Assembly budget committee vice-chairman, Republican Roger Niello, says he sees difficult budget negotiations ahead.

Niello : We have been having significantly increasing revenues in the last several years -- that's not happening this year. We're about even, we're going into this budget season without any quote “found money.”

Niello acknowledges some services offered by Planned Parenthood are troubling. In the past the issues surrounding abortion have been brought up in the debate over state funding. But Kneer says she thinks this time their big hurdle is the tough budget.

Jenny O'Mara, KPBS News.