A Successful Health Program May End Thanks to Texas's Quest to Kill Planned Parenthood

Categories: Politics

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Via
You, sir, must not be a Texas legislator.
It's been a good 14 minutes since the state twisted its rusty knife into the already-wounded gut of women's healthcare. But fear not: There's a huge, ugly storm brewing between the state and federal governments over the Medicaid Women's Health Program (WHP), and the fight appears likely to end with the program's demise and more than 100,000 poor women losing access to healthcare in the next year alone.

The fight, of course, centers on abortion -- even though the program in question doesn't pay for abortions and never has.

Texas wants rules that would prohibit patients from using family-planning clinics that are "affiliated" with abortion clinics. It can't legally make that rule. But conservative politicians tried to do it anyway.

The program was created in 2007. It provides family planning and primary care services to low-income, uninsured women, and it served nearly 125,000 people in 2010 alone. It's an especially crucial part of the safety net in Texas, where about 28 percent of women are uninsured, according to the U.S. Census Bureau -- the highest percentage in the country. For many of these women, an annual exam at a family planning clinic is the only medical care they receive.

It's also incredibly cheap, at least for Texas. The feds cover a full 90 percent of the program's costs; the state chips in just one dollar for every nine Uncle Sam does. And according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, it's served 235,000 women so far and saved the state more than $37.6 million during its first two years by helping women avoid otherwise costly unplanned pregnancies. It also saves the state money: The Legislative Budget Board estimated that the WHP would net the General Revenue Fund around $83.7 million.

"It's a successful program, reaching women with healthcare they wouldn't otherwise receive," says Sarah Wheat, the interim co-CEO at Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capitol Region in Austin. "It saves the taxpayers funds as well. The program is a success by every measure."

Except one, presuming you're a conservative politician: Last year, more than 40 percent of WHP patients received their care at a Planned Parenthood. And for that, it must be stopped.

Conservative politicians throughout the state have made their dislike of Planned Parenthood blindingly clear, as we pointed out in a recent cover story -- so much so that they cut a full two-thirds, or $73 million, from the state family planning budget for the next two years in a roundabout effort to dismantle the non-profit.

They also wrote language into the laws governing WHP saying that any family planning clinic that is "affiliated" with an abortion provider will be excluded from participation in the program. That law sent Planned Parenthood lawyers and advocates scrambling to figure out the definition of "affiliate." But Planned Parenthood's family planning clinics, just like every other family planning clinic in the state, do not provide abortions. That's done through a separately affiliated sister organization, with a separate board and a separate bank account. Government money doesn't pay for abortions, no matter how often conservative pols insist that it does.

This is coming up now because WHP is what's called a "waiver" program, not a permanent part of the state's healthcare system. Back in 2007, it was created to be a five-year program, set to expire on December 31 of this year. Programs like this across the country have faced efforts by conservative politicians to cut out Planned Parenthood, beginning with Indiana. In early June, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which oversees these programs, sent a memo to all 50 states reminding them that they can't do that. It's a violation of the Social Security Act, specifically Title VIII, Sec. 1802, which guarantees that a patient can obtain health services from any qualified agency. Disqualifying the agency based on the practices of their affiliates, the feds say, is illegal.

"You can't pick and choose who's a Medicaid provider," Planned Parenthood's Wheat says. "There's a freedom of choice within Medicaid. Any provider who wants to participate can."

Last week, the feds informed state officials (again) that they can't exclude family planning clinics with abortion-providing affiliates from the WHP. Public health advocates in the state fear that Texas lawmakers' quest to run Planned Parenthood out of business will push it axe the program altogether, despite its resounding success.

"At this point, given the legislative direction, I fear [the state] will eliminate the program rather than allow participation by abortion providers or their affiliates," Fran Hagerty, chief executive of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas , told the Houston Chronicle. "That'll wipe out family planning clinics reliant on Medicaid funding."

State officials, as well as conservative politicians across the state, insist that waiver programs don't have to comply with the Social Security Act. Tom Suehs, HHSC's executive commissioner, called the fed's decision "inconsistent with federal law that gives states the authority to establish qualifications for Medicaid providers."

Besides, conservatives say, the whole squabble is really the fault of Obama administration and Planned Parenthood, for being so damned stubborn about the abortion thing. State Senator Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, offered what he clearly considers a very simple solution to the whole dilemma.

"The problem could be solved tomorrow if Planned Parenthood just renounces abortions and just does family planning and comprehensive care, which they're capable of," Deuell, who's a doctor, told the Texas Tribune. "Then we could provide a lot of family planning, and there wouldn't be abortions and this problem would go away."

Rick Perry didn't miss a chance to ding the president either, and even managed to remember what he was talking about for the duration of his soliloquy. (Yes, it was prepared, but still.) He issued a statement accusing the Obama administration of "playing politics," adding: "We are committed to protecting life in Texas, and state law prohibits giving state dollars to abortion providers and affiliates -- a fact the Obama administration ignores. I strongly urge the administration to do the right thing and grant this waiver, so Texas women can access critical preventative health services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, rather than making them pay the price for its pro-abortion agenda."

But that appears unlikely, which leaves Planned Parenthood reps just hoping against hope that the program will somehow be saved.

"It's fiscally responsible and morally sound," says Kelly Hart, public affairs director at Planned Parenthood North Texas. "It protects the health of uninsured women who would otherwise have no place else to turn to. We would like to see this resolved so women can get the healthcare they need."


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42 comments
shakil chowdhury
shakil chowdhury

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allis griss
allis griss

I strongly urge the administration to do the right thing and grant this waiver, so Texas women can access critical preventative health services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings.concrete polishing miami

allis griss
allis griss

But Planned Parenthood's family planning clinics, just like every other family planning clinic in the state, do not provide abortions. That's done through a separately affiliated sister organization, with a separate board and a separate bank account.concrete polishing miami 

Saynsumthn Blog
Saynsumthn Blog

Planned Parenthood has many other issues thatwould cause it to be defunded - like teh way they glorify their founder a knownKlan Speaker- watch Maafa21 http://www.maafa21.com 

 

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

This is not about abortion. Plain and simple, this is about access to health care.

The extremists on the Right are USING it as a tool to stop abortion.

(I am actually pro-life, bu I am not stupid. You make it illegal, more women will die, and no kids will be saved.Plus, no uterus, no opinon. When I see them tying men's rectal exams to abortion funding, then I will agree that men have a voice.) Arguing abut abortion on this thread is exactly what they want. Resist the urge.

Here is the solution: "Occupy First Baptist" with uninsured women who need medical attention. Have them go in droves to the church on Sundays. Have them fill up the pews first. Next Sunday, Prestonwood. Then Park Cities--- They can quote Scripture about Jesus asking when people helped the poor or the sick... They can ask for some Good Christian to take them to THEIR doctor and pay for it. They can ask the congregation where on the grounds they can find the Pap Smear room.

You want to open people's eyes--then by God, little old O D, here is your chance. Do something useful.

jfpo
jfpo

So I scroll through the comments and can't find anyone addressing the real issue here, which is basic health care services for women will be slashed out of spite to PP. Legislators who voted for this should be ashamed of themselves, but clearly they (nor Perry) have any shame.

dt&ot
dt&ot

"My personal position on abortion is well-known, but I will restate it just to make sure there’s no confusion: I support a woman’s right to have an abortion. It is the woman’s choice. I support encouragement of adoption as an alternative to abortion. I support federal funding of reproductive counseling and education that can help prevent unwanted pregnancies so that fewer women will have to face this difficult decision. I support federal funding of abortions for poor women. Since these women have already made the decision, for public health reasons, we should ensure that the procedure is done safely."

This is from Ross Perot's 'United We Stand'

He said it best and it stands the test of time. 

Facebook User
Facebook User

Anna, I was hoping to get some clarification. Is this intended to be reporting or is this an opinion piece?

guest
guest

We can't keep having abortions, because these fetuses are our future workforce...and by future, I mean, 6 years after they leave their mom's respective wombs. For when the Republicans take back Washington they're gonna do away with all the child labor laws(shoutout to Newt) and allow them to clean our toilettes,mow our grass, etc! With the tide of illegal immigration slowing down, we are gonna need this new, cheap(maybe even cheaper -$$$) populace to pull from...the American dollar and economy depend on it! Pro-life, Pro-child labor...can I get an AMEN

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'll start off by saying that I am personally against abortion.  It is wrong in my view.  That being said, I don't have the authority or right to impose that view on others.  So, in essence, I'm pro-choice.Unfortunately, this issue isn't even about abortion.  It is about imposition of will.  The fundamentalist right wing wants to impose it's will on the general population.  It has failed to do so using legislative means and judicial means, so now it is resorting to using financial means.  An idiotic approach, at best, more than likely a fiscal disaster for the state, and a humanitarian disaster as well.People aren't going to stop banging away like bunnies, and men aren't going to suddenly develop a responsible gene and wrap their willy when they go boot knockin'.  So, there will still be unwanted pregnancies.  In pre-Roe-v-Wade times, these were dealt with in numerous ways, none ideal.  Unsanctioned abortionists operated in the shadows, wreaking havoc on women's health.  If we return to that, the state, not the feds will end up footing that bill.  Or the women will put the infants up for adoption, but un-adopted babies wind up getting dumped back on..... you guessed it, the state.  OOOOOOOR, the women, no other choice presenting itself, can marry the first deadbeat they can sucker into it, he'll go on and beat her and the kid senseless everytime the Cowboys lose a game, and we can support the entire family; him in prison and her and the kid on the welfare roles.Fiscal responsibility, something conservatives and republicans (they're not the same thing) are supposed to embrace, would tell us to keep the current arrangement for women's health services, if not expand the state's contribution and try to include more education in the prevention arena (not abstinence, prevention).

Ed D.
Ed D.

Perry: "We are committed to protecting life in Texas, unless it's the state doing the killin' then we're all for it. Heck, we don't care if you're innocent or a kid or the D.A. basically framed you, just so long as we keep getting applause from GOP crowds for executin' folks."

BB
BB

By stripping women of basic preventative healthcare, it's going to cost the taxpayer MORE when they end up in the ER and walk away from the bill because they are unable to pay. Who is saddled with that cost? You and I of course! Those bills are added into our medical bills we are able to pay.

Gale Routh
Gale Routh

this is science:fetus (NOT A BABY, THEY ARE BORN…GOOGLE THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT CHART) is a parasite because the classification of the biological relationship that is based on the behavior of one organism (the fetus) and how it relates to the woman's body:

as a zygote, it invaded the woman's uterus using its Trophoblast cells and hijacked her immune system by using Neurokinin B—-so her body won't KILL it, and stole her nutrients to survive and causes her harm or potential DEATH!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

"it is also possible for a symbiotic relationship to exist between two organisms of the same species."http://www.answers.com/topic/s... —–Gale's Science of Everyday Things:Symbiosis

"an animal or plant that lives in or on another (the host) from which it obtains nourishment. The host does not benefit from the association and is often harmed by it"http://www.thefreedictionary.c...

if a man can kill his tapeworm at anytime, so should a woman abort her unwanted human parasitic fetus at anytime, too.

Gale Routh
Gale Routh

this is the law:ABORTION IS A CIVIL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT SUPPORTED BY THE RIGHTS TO PRIVACY, THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF 14TH AMENDMENT, AND THE 13TH AMENDMENT.

no human has a right to life or any due process rights by the 14th amendment to use another human's body or body parts AGAINST their will, civil and constitutional rights: that's why you are not force to donate your kidney---the human fetus is no exception; this is protected by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E...

consensual sex =/= a legal, binding contract for an unwanted fetus to live.

ALL THE REPUBLICANS ARE PRO-LIFE, SCHIZOPHRENIC FASCISTS WHO SUPPORTS REPRODUCTIVE SLAVERY OF AMERICAN FEMALE CITIZENS, WHICH IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY THE 13TH AMENDMENT. 

Guest
Guest

"But Planned Parenthood's family planning clinics, just like every other family planning clinic in the state, do not provide abortions."

That must be an awfully fine line, particularly when one of the first google results is this.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Did you produce this little film?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Try reading some of the comments instead of just scrolling.  A couple of comments addressed the issue of women's health.

Doug
Doug

Oh dear...are you suggesting it's wrong that I make our kids clean the toilettes, mow the yard, wash the car...help with laundry?  Oh oh.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

I've never understood, frankly, why those who seem to be so frothingly anti-abortion also seem be so frothingly anti-sex education.    It stands to reason that lowering the rate of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies would lower the number of abortions.  Teaching our kids (and yes, I'm a parent) how and where babies come from, and how to prevent that from happening, would seem to be an ideal solution to both problems.  However, all we get is a logically disconnected platform of abstinence-only sex ed, which doesn't work, and screaming about preventing abortions.

RTGolden
RTGolden

On the flip side of that: Liberals: "We are committed to protecting life, except for abortions, victims of murder and/or rape, children who are abused to death by shitbag boyfriends of wastoid mothers, etc.  But we are committed to protecting the life of those murderers, rapists, shitbag boyfriends and wastoid mothers, just so long as they keep voting for democrats"

Hysterical rhetoric rarely benefits either side of this argument. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

In almost every definition of Symbiosis one can find, it describes a relationship between two DISSIMILAR organisms, or organisms of different biological species (from your freedictionary.com link) that is mutually beneficial or beneficial to one and benign to the other.

Aside from being basically looney, your own citations don't support your assertions.  By the way, I could find no credible link that considers a pregnancy a parasitic invasion.

dt&ot
dt&ot

Liked your first post related to the law.  The second one makes me want to take it back.  Bad Analogy.

brett
brett

being a conductor on the crazy train isn't helping your point at all.  Plus, citing to wikipedia automatically deducts your grade by 1/2 a letter.

RTGolden
RTGolden

You were once a fetus.  Just sayin'.

Uptown
Uptown

I am definitely pro-choice, but to compare a fetus to a tapeworm does nothing to change anyone's mind on the issue. It sounds just as extreme as the "conservative" lawmakers who would let a vital women's health program die just to make a political point. Do everyone a favor and stop making inflammatory posts. 

JTR
JTR

You're.  Not.  Helping.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Planned Parenthood's family planning clinics, which receive government funds, do not provide abortions. Instead, they provide pap smears, cervical cancer screenings, Well Woman exams and a host of other preventative healthcare services.

Planned Parenthood's surgical centers, which are separate entities legally, financially, and organizationally, do provide abortions. They don't get government funding. Perry and other pro-life politicians like to argue that " your taxpayer dollars" fund abortions.  That's not true. Ever. No matter how many times they say it. 

guest
guest

For you parents out there, by all means, have your children do these chores. Oh. Wait. I said chores...that's a bit difference then doing them for a days work(which child labor laws are in place to deter)... oh dear, I hope your children read with a little more comprehension than you. Doh! Doh!

guest
guest

No, i'm much easier on the eyes:)

RTGolden
RTGolden

As in all things, follow the money.  There is no graft money to be made in actually preventing unplanned pregnancies.  Only in dealing with them.

guest
guest

I know. They should run for office. They'd be a shoe in, at least, if they ran for governor of Texas, that is!

JimS
JimS

I'm much more in favor of comparisons between old people and vampires.

Facebook User
Facebook User

Planned Parenthood generates about 6% of their revenue from abortions. It is one of the smallest profit centers for the organization (according to the organization).

Guest
Guest

"The problem could be solved tomorrow if Planned Parenthood just renounces abortions and just does family planning and comprehensive care, which they're capable of," Deuell, who's a doctor, told the Texas Tribune.

Then they ought to do just that - divorce the abortion clinics from the "family planning clinics" entirely, not just in games with corporate structure.  You search for a clinic near you on the PP website, and you'll get mixed abortion/non-abortion results (with literal small print indicating that they are "operated" by different companies).  As long as that's the case, they'll never convince anyone that any taxpayer funding isn't also supporting abortions.

If PP doesn't like the consequence of being associated with abortions, then all they have to do is stop offering them under the PP "umbrella".  They wouldn't then have to worry about what a completely-separate, non-publicly funded chain of abortion clinics does at all.  The fact that they've never done so shows that they intend PP to be known as a go-to abortion provider.

Facebook User
Facebook User

Would also solve their issues related to being found in Siri.

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