Despite South Carolina's rising teen pregnancy rate, Medicaid is eliminating funding for pregnancy prevention services.
Medicaid Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services, known as MAPPS, provides $400,000 annually in funding for education and counseling for youths ages 10 to 19 who are at risk for engaging in sex at an early age.
MAPPS is slated to be eliminated in December, said Jeff Stensland, director of public information for the state's Medicaid agency.
Forty MAPPS programs exist throughout the state and are run through community outreaches, nonprofits and in some schools. Cutting the funding could result in an undetermined number of layoffs.
The state Medicaid agency is still in the process of notifying MAPPS providers of the program's elimination, Stensland said. Providers in Charleston, including Communities in Schools of Charleston and Florence Crittenton, said Thursday they had not been notified of the cut.
Forrest Alton, director of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said, "For the first time in the last 15 years, teen pregnancy rates have increased. At a time like this, we should be increasing our investment in young people, not cutting programs that have proven effective."
Teen pregnancy rates began to rise in 2006 after a 10-year period of decline, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
In August, the state Budget and Control Board ordered a 3 percent across-the-board cut for agencies, leaving the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for Medicaid, with a $28.5 million loss in state funds. Since those dollars are matched by federal money, the losses for the state will total about $90 million, Stensland said.
MAPPS is the only program to be eliminated in the face of the cuts, he said. Medicaid is also reducing its reimbursement rate, which could make it harder for patients to find physicians willing to accept them. And the number of pills patients receive in their monthly prescriptions was reduced to 31 from 34.
Stensland said that the program was chosen for elimination because a lot of the services provided are not covered under traditional Medicaid.
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