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Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Hosting 29th Annual East End Benefit Over Memorial Day Weekend

Nicole Barylski

Former Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic President/CEO Reina Schiffrin, actress Martha Plimpton, and Larraine Boyle at last year's benefit. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

With the American Health Care Act threatening to defund Planned Parenthood, now's an incredibly important time for the nonprofit organization that has served the community for 84 years.

"There's a lot to the American Health Care Act that we need to make sure that people are aware of and it has not been scored by the Congressional Budget office, at this point - so we don't know what the true costs are," noted Vincent Russell, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Interim President/CEO. "But, we do know that many, many millions of people will lose their health care insurance from this, and from a Planned Parenthood perspective, we will not be an eligible Medicaid provider, if the American Health Care Act goes through the Senate as written. When they talk about defunding, that is really a misnomer. What it really means is that Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to be reimbursed through the Medicaid process, just like any hospital or private physician who sees a Medicaid patient is paid for that service, that's the same way Planned Parenthood is paid, through Medicaid. For a patient who comes into the health centers with Medicaid, we are reimbursed for that visit based upon that insurance carrier - just like we are reimbursed through any commercial insurance carrier visit."

On Sunday, May 28, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP), one of 56 Planned Parenthood affiliates which operates ten health centers in Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties, is inviting the community to join them for the organization's 29th Annual East End Benefit. Taking place at a private home in Bridgehampton at 5 p.m., the festive Memorial Day weekend fundraiser will feature Wolffer Estate Vineyard wines, Montauk Brewing Company beer, bites from Elegant Eating, and music by DJ Twilo.

"Proceeds from the East End Benefit will support us in our operational endeavors here at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. They'll support patient services, our objectives, and Planned Parenthood is unique in the fact that it has three 'legs' essentially: from the patient services side, the education, and the advocacy," noted Russell. "Those funds are used to help greatly with our educational services, many of which we have out on the East End. We continue to provide age appropriate, medically accurate education programs and outreach and information throughout the East End. We also provide what we call 'Smart Wheels' - which is a mobile education and testing van. It provides a lot of free HIV testing and education and outreach in the community. We've been involved in many areas out on the East End, such as the Southampton Youth Bureau, the South Fork Community Health Initiative, and a couple of other agencies out there, as well."

Last year, PPHP provided services to more than 36,000 patients in more than 58,000 visits, and also presented 900 education and training programs to 19,000 youth and adults. Defunding Planned Parenthood would greatly affect those that depend on PPHP for care. "That would have a significant impact on Hudson Peconic in terms of our parametrics, our parametrics are greatly comprised of the Medicaid population - therefore a large portion of our revenue is dependent upon those visits and being there to care for those patients," he explained. "It would have a significant impact on the number of centers and number of areas where we could provide service to those patients."

Quite frankly Russell is astounded that women's rights and the right to choose is still up for debate. "It's very surprising that this is still a topic of conversation. You'd think in the year 2017 that we would be past this, that the women's right to care and choice would be established, and they would be able to seek services where and how they wanted to seek services," he said. "But yet, we're still talking about the potential for increased insurance rates for women, which the Affordable Care Act did away with. The fact that pregnancy can be classified as a preexisting condition would also impact a woman in the new American Health Care Act, and the fact of the right of having a choice has also been well established with Roe v. Wade, and that should be the law of the land. We shouldn't be continuing to discuss this topic."

The Benefit will also feature a special Across the Line screening. "Across the Line is an award winning, 360 virtual reality film, and what it does is it provides a virtual reality experience that combines computer generated imaging to put viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion," noted Russell. "Using real audio gathered at protests, scripted scenes and documentary footage, the film is a powerful hybrid documentary depiction of the gauntlet that many abortion providers, heath center staff and patients must walk through on a typical day in America. It's a short reality, it's only about seven minutes long. So the viewer will get a real feeling of what it's like to have to go through a group of protestors or health center staff when they enter the health centers, or any other staff, for that matter."

"With being in New York, we're fortunate in that we're a much more friendly state and the access to safe and legal abortion is available to us, however, many areas of the country don't quite have the same standards as we do and protections as New York," Russell added. "Many times, many patients throughout the country face this, and this gives a real world depiction of what it's like sometimes to go have a safe and legal abortion, and some of the obstacles that patients encounter."

Tickets to Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic's 29th Annual East End Benefit are $200, and must be purchased before Friday, May 19. No tickets will be sold at the door.

PPHP's mission is "to empower individuals to determine their own sexual health and reproductive futures" by providing "nonjudgmental health care services, education programs, and advocacy work to better serve the needs of our East End community."

For more information, visit www.ppaction.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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