Sunday, April 14, 2013

A win in Texas!

Have you heard that the good folks in Texas legislature do not like abortion? They don't want to have an abortion, and they sure as H-E-double-hockeysticks don't want you to have one either. And if they have to cut reproductive health care to every poor woman in Texas, well by gum they will do it!

If you are a woman living in Texas and you are poor, there is a good chance that you've gotten health care at Planned Parenthood. PP served more than 40% of the women participating in the state's Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 2012, providing family planning, cancer and STI screenings, and prenatal care. What you didn't get at any of the 51 PP facilities participating in the program was an abortion. Because no state or federal funds can be used to pay for abortion, and the federal government picks up 90% of the tab for women's services under Medicaid, which is distributed by the Texas WHI. Or, it used to.

Over the past two years, Texas legislators have drafted laws aimed specifically at ending reimbursements to PP facilities under the WHI. Not because these facilities provide abortion - which they don't. But because these facilities are affiliated with a national provider that advocates for abortion rights. Which is kind of like telling hungry people they can't use food stamps at a store which sells cigarettes. Only don't tell that to Texas legislators, since those guys are a bunch of heartless bastards who would probably just turn around and do it.

So, YeeHaw! Governor Hair and his posse passed laws specifically excluding Planned Parenthood from WHI reimbursements. This caused an immediate shortage of providers for thousands of Texas women. It also defunded dozens of other women's health clinics beside PP - none of which was providing abortion care. Celebration ensued.

The federal government pointed out that Texas couldn't continue to receive Title X funds while violating the provision which allows a woman to choose her own qualified healthcare provider. Texas' response: "Don't let the doorknob hitcha in the crack of the ass, Lawman." Or something like that. At which point the Department of Health and Human Services stopped funding the Texas's Women's Health Initiative.

But just when you're wondering, "Is there something in the water down there? Can there really be NO rational people in that entire state?" . . .

A coalition of women's healthcare providers in Texas banded together and submitted their own application for funds under Title X. On March 25, the federal government announced that it would award some of the canceled Medicaid funds directly to the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (WHFPT). The coalition will distribute these funds to clinics across the state, including Planned Parenthood.

Importantly, any clinic which receives this funding will be governed by federal privacy laws. This means that a teenager seeking birth control will not be required to notify her parents, as required under Texas' statute. Moreover, federal funding grants a provider access to discounted drugs, so patients pay less for contraception.

I love it! And I also find it more than a little ironic that an administration which has consistently railed against big government, which calls the Affordable Care Act a socialist violation of state's rights, is causing a separate system regulated and funded by the federal government to be born in their state. It's a weird world.

Today's $5 goes to the WHFPT. Y'all rock!

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