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Perry’s empty promise on the Women’s Health Program

Our Governor talks big, but his words have no meaning.

The state will find the cash to continue a women’s health program whose federal funding is threatened because of a decision to keep Planned Parenthood from participating, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.

“We’re going to fund this program,” Perry said. “Listen, we’ll find the money. The state is committed to this program … This program is not going away.”

Perry didn’t specify where the state would get the money for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides health screenings and contraceptive services to low-income women.

In a Thursday letter to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Perry directed Commissioner Tom Suehs to work with legislative leaders to identify funding.

Nearly 130,000 women are enrolled in the program, which in fiscal year 2012 is scheduled to receive $29.8 million in federal funds and $3.3 million in state general-revenue money.

“We’ve got a multibillion-dollar budget, so we have the ability to be flexible on where monies come from,” Perry said.

Funny, but I don’t remember any talk about “flexibility” back when billions were being cut from the budget. I also don’t recall the Governor objecting when tens of millions were being cut from the Women’s Health Program and bills to continue it were being blocked in the Legislature. Where will we find that money, and why couldn’t we find money like it when the budget was being written? Who will actually provide the services for 100,000+ women that had been going to Planned Parenthood? Why is it even remotely fiscally responsible to turn down a 9:1 funding match over a ridiculous point of ideology? There are no answers, only questions.

Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston, House Democratic Caucus leader, said of Perry’s funding promise, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” noting cuts approved by lawmakers who crafted the current budget to meet a massive revenue shortfall.

“I don’t see how you’re going to get blood out of that turnip,” Farrar said.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said that “the real losers in this battle are limited income women of color who are disproportionately harmed” by the new rule.

“Perry and his free-market cohorts have repeatedly said that Texans should have a choice of health provider. But his insistence on banning certain providers from the program prevents poor Texas women from seeing their provider of choice – and that’s just bad medicine,” Coleman said.

What did you expect? The Trib, Burka, and BOR have more, and a statement from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. CEO Melaney Linton is beneath the fold. There will be a rally in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic at 4600 South Freeway on Monday, March 12, at 11:30, as part of PP’s statewide bus tour. See here for details.

Melaney A. Linton, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. (PPGC) released the following statement regarding Governor Perry’s newfound commitment to the Women’s Health Program (WHP).

“Governor Rick Perry’s record shows that he can’t be trusted when it comes to women’s health. He consistently chooses politics over Texas women.

“We all know that Governor Perry has a history of forgetting. But Texas women haven’t forgotten the relentless attacks that Governor Perry and his political cronies have launched. We remember well that last year, Governor Perry eliminated two-thirds of the budget for women’s preventive health care. As a result, more than 160,000 low-income women have been left without access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, and other health exams this year. If the governor has suddenly identified newly available state funding to support women’s health and birth control, we urge him to immediately restore the $73 million for breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests, birth control and health exams that was eliminated on September 1, 2011.

“The Women’s Health Express bus has been traveling the state all week, and in communities throughout Texas — from McAllen, to Waco, to San Angelo — we’ve heard from women that Planned Parenthood is their trusted health care provider. They count on Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers for lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and well woman exams.

“On Monday morning the Women’s Health Express bus will be met by a throng of women who are fed up with these political attacks on women’s health. They will gather for a rally at 11:30am on Monday outside of Planned Parenthood (4600 Gulf Freeway) to urge Governor Perry to stop playing politics with their lives.

“Planned Parenthood statewide cares for more than 40 percent of patients in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. A newly released poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 59 percent of Texas voters oppose Governor Rick Perry’s efforts to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

“There is a resounding message heard across the state: Governor Perry, don’t mess with Texas women.”

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  1. peter Wang says:

    If someone told the man that swallowing fishhooks was a prolife stance, he’d do it. Too bad he remembered how to get back to Texas.

  2. Maybe he can kick in that $90,000 dollar retirement check, and move into a mobile home to save us ten thousand a month but that is however, just a drop in the bucket to what he is costing Texas in funding for women’s healthcare.

  3. […] main way that this would differ from Perry’s empty promise is that it would allow the existing providers (read: primarily, but not exclusively, Planned […]

  4. […] they couldn’t just find $30 million in other state funds lying around, despite Perry’s empty promises. What should happen next is an edict from whoever doles out these block grants stating that they […]