Friday, January 18, 2013

Texas and Planned Parenthood | Casey's Last Word

It’s time to catch up with a story about which we gave considerable attention in the past two years.

When the federal government told Texas it could not continue to receive federal money for a women’s health program aimed at low-income women if the state barred Planned Parenthood from the program, Governor Rick Perry stood firm.

The Feds said the law requires that women get to choose their provider, as long as the provider did not perform abortions at its clinic.

In Texas, more than 40 percent of the more than 100,000 women in the program turned to Planned Parenthood for their wellness check-ups and free or low-cost contraception.

But, as Perry said, a new Texas law says that if they couldn’t exclude Planned Parenthood, Texas wouldn’t participate in the federal program, even though the feds picked up about 90 percent of the program’s $40 million cost.

The law says Planned Parenthood clinics can’t be involved because, though they don’t perform abortions, they are associated with Planned Parenthood clinics that do.

So Perry announced that Texas would run its own program, serving all the women who were eligible for the federally funded program.

And earlier this month, the state’s Health and Human Services Commission proudly pronounced that it had signed up more than enough doctors and clinics to do the job without Planned Parenthood.

It said women should just go to its web site and pick a clinic or doctor from a pre-approved list.

Well, some news organizations have checked on those lists.

The results?

Let’s just say that we’re glad the Texas Health and Human Services Commission doesn’t provide actual medical care.

The Dallas Morning News checked contacts listed online for their area and beyond.

Many were duplicates of each other, but of those who weren’t only 18 percent knew they were part of the program and are open to new patients.

One was a sports medicine clinic.

One was a title company.

“Hundreds of phone numbers for Dallas-area providers are wrong or duplicate contact information,” the Morning News reported.

“Of the 55 Dallas-area providers, 10 were not sure what the new program was, and nine more did not accept the Texas Women’s Health Program and were unaware they were listed.”

In Austin, the CBS television affiliate randomly called 25 providers listed.

Only 4 were participating.

Fifteen didn’t offer women’s medical services.

A San Antonio organization has found similar problems here, but has not yet finalized its report.

Governor Perry issued a one-word press release.

It said, “Oops.”

No he didn’t, but he should.

The rhythm method has a higher success rate than the state’s list.

For the record, the Health and Human Services Commission says it put up the wrong list and is working on the problem.

After years of cuts in state government, I’m sure the commission is overwhelmed.

But at least we’re saving tax money, right?

Not likely.

In addition to cutting the Women’s Health Program, the Legislature took another $73 million from other health and family planning programs for low-income women, cutting that budget by two-thirds.

The non-partisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that this would lead to 20,500 additional births and $230 million in Medicaid expenses.

Those are very costly cuts.

No comments: