Trying to find a way with the WHP

I admire and applaud the effort. I abhor the fact that it was needed.

Leading Houston Democrats in favor of a seemingly doomed health care program for low-income women are pushing to bypass the state to keep federal money flowing to Planned Parenthood.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Rep. Garnet Coleman said Monday they are negotiating with U.S. Health and Human Services in hopes of finding alternative funding for the program, which provides health screenings and contraceptive services to 130,000 Texas women on Medicaid.

“It would be a look-alike program but not be the same thing,” said Coleman.

The Medicaid Women’s Health Program is due to end in Texas on March 31, the result of the state’s decision to exclude clinics affiliated with abortion providers, even those that do not provide abortions. Federal regulations say a state can’t exclude qualified providers from the program.

Coleman and Lee said the alternative might involve the federal government allocating money to local entities, such as counties, hospital districts or federally qualified health clinics. They noted that school districts have been allowed to apply for federal grants independently rather than through the state.

U.S. Rep. Gene Green said he will look at alternatives but acknowledged that “I doubt I could do much with this Congress.” He said he’s hopeful things will be more favorable after the election.

The 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 Parenthood) to continue doing their work instead of forcing thousands of women to find new doctors who may or may not ever materialize to take on that un-lucrative business. It also ensures that we don’t have to depend on Perry’s alleged commitment to women’s health, which was something he certainly did not have last year when it counted.

Last spring, I watched with dismay as the Texas House, led by Republican lawmakers, slashed – from $111 million to only $38 million – the only other program providing contraception for poor Texas women, administered by the Department of State Health Services.

Perry stood by silently as GOP lawmakers took the ax to the program, despite budget analysts reporting that the program would save the state millions of dollars by preventing unwanted children who would be delivered into this world on Medicaid’s dime.


Perry hasn’t really had an epiphany that contraception for the poor is a worthwhile, even “cost-effective,” program. He’s warring with President Barack Obama because the federal government won’t go along with his administration’s attempt to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the program.

“Why would the Obama Administration take away access to health care for low-income Texas women?” Perry asks on his website. “Because this administration puts funding for abortion providers and affiliates ahead of funding for women’s cancer screenings and other preventative health care.”

He conveniently fails to mention that no money that goes to Planned Parenthood can be used to provide abortions. It’s already illegal.

The money pays only for cancer screenings and contraception that poor women need. But Perry, the governor who is against the government picking your health care provider, has decided he gets to pick the health care provider for poor women.

That would be because, as the sonogram saga showed, Perry thinks women are incapable of making these decisions on their own. Women may disagree about that, but who cares what they think? Not Rick Perry, that’s for sure.

The bottom line is simply this.

Fran Hagerty, the head of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas — which represents non-Planned Parenthood providers in Texas, including clinics, hospitals and medical schools — said she seriously doubts Gov. Rick Perry will be able to keep the pledge he made last week to maintain the roughly $30 million-per-year program without federal help. She said the “monstrous” family-planning funding cuts of the last legislative session, made before the Women’s Health Program was jeopardized, have eroded trust and have forced clinics to shut their doors.

“The funds made available to family planning providers through the Women’s Health Program is what is keeping most of them going at this point,” she said in a statement. “No one trusts Gov. Perry to find state money to fund them at the same level as the Medicaid program.”

Emphasis mine. No one should trust Rick Perry to care about funding the Women’s Health Program. His record on this issue is quite clear and has been for a long time. Once the spotlight is off and he no longer has to pretend he’s the good guy and the Obama administration is the bad guy, he’ll revert to form. Indeed, he already is, with his ludicrous funny-money funding proposal. Burka, who agrees with this assessment, and Trail Blazers have more.

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