Health Department Raises Prices
Starting this week, prices will increase at the Health Department. Jane Hubbs, a Health Department employee, says it isn't about taking money, it's about staying open.
"It still costs us an additional $26,000 to run it, aside from what they give us in our budget and so at this point in order to continue to offer these services we are going to have to increase the fees," she explained.
Medicaid replaced money in the Health Department's budget cut by the state three years ago. But now Medicaid has received cuts as well.
Where the Health Department used to offer free services to some patients, those same people now have to pay $25 or more. Now some people are claiming they can't afford the services they need.
"I'd probably be more hesitant about going, and money situations being a student, and not making that much money, it would probably be more difficult," college student Amber Peterson.
Officials at the Health Department say going without preventitive procedures could cost someone their life. Experts claim about 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year by clinics like the Health Department. If detected early, cervical cancer is curable. But more than 4,000 women still die of the disease each year. Health Department officials fear that with the new costs, fewer women will come in to be examined.
For every dollar the government spends on women's services, $3 are saved in medical costs. The fees for Health Department services are still determined by income, but now nothing will be free. There have been several pieces of legislation proposed to restore the family planning services budget, but nothing has been approved.