Monday, March 19, 2012

Who Really Cares About Women's Health?

In an astounding misrepresentation of events, many news outlets have been reporting that Texas Republicans and Governor Rick Perry are canceling the Women's Health Program (WHP). The program, a Medicaid initiative to provide preventative health services to low-income women, is in fact slated to be canceled. However, it is President Obama who is trying to kill the program, and largely to make a political point.

The President's desire to end the program is due to new rules passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. Texas now prohibits any WHP funds from going to entities that “perform or promote elective abortion,” a ruling that effectively excludes abortion-oriented Planned Parenthood. Critics of the new rules claim Planned Parenthood is essential to providing 'health-care' to low-income women, but the facts tell another story.

To begin, there are some 2,500 qualified providers in the WHP operating more than 4,600 locations. But there are only 44 Planned Parenthood sites, representing less than 2% of the clinics. According to a recent map published by the Texas Tribune, the Planned Parenthood clinics are concentrated in a few urban areas and surrounded by other WHP providers. 

But even if Planned Parenthood had more participating clinics, it appears they do not provide the kind of services most Americans associate with health care. According to public records, no Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas maintains equipment or licensing for mammogram machines. Furthermore, if a patient needs a doctor for anything other than abortion, she must be sent to another WHP clinic, since Planned Parenthood 'doctors' only perform abortions. Texas legislators wisely chose to cut out the middle man and send patients directly to comprehensive clinics.

Another troubling aspect of Planned Parenthood's participation in WHP is the organization's apparent disregard for the law. In 2009, Planned Parenthood San Antonio was fined more than $100,000 for operating four illegal abortion facilities without a license, and had to return hundreds of thousands of WHP funds. In the same year, Planned Parenthood of El Paso was found to have engaged in Medicaid fraud, and closed abruptly.

And the allegations keep coming. Last year former Planned Parenthood employee Karen Reynolds filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the organization systematically falsified medical charts for abortion clients to make it appear as if these clients came in for other services. Included in Reynold's complaint are memos instructing employees to falsify records to obtain Medicaid reimbursements. And just last week the Washington Times reported that former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Planned Parenthood clinics in Southeast Texas of submitting more than $6 million in fraudulent Medicaid claims.

In addition to legal and ethical problems (Planned Parenthood is also under investigation for sex trafficking of minor girls and failure to report abuse,) the abortion business doesn't provide much value to the taxpayer. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Planned Parenthood's cost per client is 43% higher than most other WHP providers.

Despite multiple issues surrounding Planned Parenthood's participation in the Women's Health Program, President Obama prefers to cancel the entire service rather than provide comprehensive health-care for low-income women. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood and the White House are attempting to blame Governor Perry for the demise of WHP. However, the Governor announced last week that Texas would replace the funds Obama canceled and will continue the program. It seems that while the President prefers to make political points about abortion, it is Texas and Governor Perry who are looking out for women's health.


Nick said...

I was happy to see this posted in the local paper. Good piece, thanks for getting involved with editorials.

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