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Gov Rick Perry’s Abysmal Record On Women’s Health

If you’re a woman from Texas—or indeed, any  woman—there’s a lot to dislike about Gov. Rick Perry.

The vanity.  The boorishness.  The belief you’re too  stupid to make your own medical decisions. The weird resemblance to Animal House’s Niedermeyer in his college  photo.

Perry reminds me of the scene in Thelma and Louise in which  Thelma (Geena Davis) says of her  n’er-do-well husband, “He kind of  prides himself on being infantile.” Louise (Susan  Sarandon) responds,  “He’s got a lot to be proud of.”

So as we all prepare for the media barrage surrounding  Perry’s  presidential announcement on Saturday, and in tradition of my idol   Molly Ivins, I’m going to start a new group, Texas Women Enraged by Rick  Perry—TWERP for short.

As TWERP’s organizer, I feel  obliged to point out that on a  practical level, Rick Perry has made it pretty  lousy for women in  Texas, especially for women at the bottom of the economic  ladder. He’s  also made it pretty lousy for anybody who doesn’t look like him.  As  Eileen Smith wrote  in the Texas Observer, “In  just one session, Republicans managed to  screw children, women, gays,  immigrants, teachers, the elderly,  Hispanics, the unemployed and the uninsured.  The only people who got off easy were white guys. Can’t imagine why.”

The numbers tell the tale. Texas is dead last in the number  of  non-elderly women without health insurance, and 6th nationally in  the  percentage of women in poverty, according to the Texas  Legislative Study Group.  One in  five Texas children lack health insurance, the highest rate in  the nation. And  if that weren’t bad enough, Perry tried to opt out of  Medicaid, which provides  healthcare to the most vulnerable Texas populations, including pregnant women  and children.

When it comes to reproductive healthcare, the state budget guts  family planning, leaving 284,000 Texas women without birth control or access  to basic reproductive healthcare. This will also likely increase the abortion  rate, sonograms or no sonograms. And of course there’s the standard right wing assault on  Planned Parenthood. Women needing prenatal care fare no better.

As reported in the Texas  Tribune, “Texas has the worst rate  of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the  first trimester,  according to the report commissioned by the Legislative Study  Group…And  though Texas has the highest percent of its population without  health  insurance, the state is 49th in per capita spending on Medicaid, and   dead last in per capita spending on mental health, according to the   report.”

So if you’re a working class Texas woman, Rick Perry doesn’t  want  you to have access to birth control or reproductive healthcare to  prevent  unintended pregnancy, but once you’re pregnant the state  mandates a sonogram  and a lecture to convince you of the error of your  ways. After that sonogram  and lecture, if you need prenatal care,  you’re SOL. And once the baby is born,  Texas is 47th in monthly benefit payments under the Women, Infants, & Children program, which  provides nutrition assistance.

This is Rick Perry’s vision for women in the United States. Limited  healthcare, little birth control, low  income women and kids left to  fend for themselves, a bunch of bureaucrats  telling you what to do—and  the very real human suffering that goes along with  it. TWERP might be  an understatement.

By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, August 11, 2011

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Economy, Education, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Governors, Health Care, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Immigrants, Income Gap, Lawmakers, Media, Medicaid, Middle Class, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Press, Pro-Choice, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Teaparty, Unemployed, Uninsured, Voters, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ineffective and Unfair: Conservatives Target Preventive Health Care for the Ax

It seems we’ve entered the season of shortsighted thinking. With 50.7 million uninsured Americans, Republicans are on a rampage to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Adding insult to injury, the most recent House Republican plan to cut the federal budget deficit this fiscal year took a scalpel to $10 billion in federal grants that provide health care to indigent women and children, slashing $2 billion in federal funding that is bound to have very expensive consequences.

Funding for community health centers will be cut in half by the Republican cuts. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who was a co-sponsor of the legislation responding to President George W. Bush’s call to expand funding for these centers in 2008, says that “since 2001, additional funding has allowed health centers in more than 750 communities nationwide to provide care to about four million new patients. These centers provide affordable and quality care to at-risk Americans who otherwise might have to do without.”

He’s right on the mark. No health care costs will be avoided by cutting this $1 billion out of the budget because the absence of care doesn’t stop you from getting sick. It simply means you get sicker and you turn up at the emergency room or a hospital when your illness has progressed to the point that your care needs are exorbitantly expensive.

On top of this cut to care, which more often than not is the safety-net care for women and children, the proposals would also cut the maternal and child health block grant by 30 percent. This block grant pays for child immunizations and prenatal care for tens of thousands of women and children. It’s obvious that without access to immunizations more will have to be spent to care for kids sick with easily preventable illnesses.

And reducing access to prenatal care is both life-threatening and costly. A preemie baby’s health care costs are 10 times higher than a full-term, healthy-weight child, according to the March of Dimes. The organization estimates that the full lifetime health care costs for these fragile children hit the $17 billion mark. It’s simply penny wise and pound foolish to cut $199 million out of a program that has a proven track record of delivering health to babies and driving down America’s health care costs.

Among the programs slashed is one of the most efficient programs to improve child nutrition: the Women, Infants and Children program run by the Department of Agriculture. This program gives expectant mothers with very small children important tips on how to feed their children healthy meals. And it provides them with coupons to incentivize them to purchase the best foods for their children. Research shows that without this intervention the nutritional intake of these children would be higher in fats, salts, and sugars, according to a recent U.S. Food and Nutrition Services study.

Instead of spending $1,400 a month in extra medical care for an obese child, for just $41 per month this program shifts these young mothers and children into healthy eating patterns, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clearly, the WIC approach is a useful and relatively cheap way to stem the rising tide of childhood obesity.

An unsurprising but equally shortsighted cut is the complete elimination of family-planning services. If you just listened to their sound bites, you would think these funds could be used for abortions. But we all know that’s not permitted. These federal funds make it possible for uninsured women and men to get access to critical contraceptive services, pregnancy counseling, and tests for sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer screening, and other critical health screens. Without access to these health care services, the health care needs of these adults will not disappear.

Instead, these adults will end up with unintended pregnancies and preventable health conditions that could have been avoided had they had ready access to commonplace family-planning services and screenings. Indeed, every dollar spent on family-planning services saves taxpayers $4 in Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services alone, according to a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute.

The absurdity of these cuts to the block grant, community health care centers, and family-planning services is that none of this funding would be necessary if we had a fully functioning national health care system where every American had access to high-quality care.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Millions more Americans will lose access to health care as a result of these cuts and as a result more will have to be spent to address the real health care consequences of these cuts. Franklin also invented bifocals so his aging colleagues could see the important documents they gathered to draft. Perhaps the Republican leadership needs to adjust their glasses so they more clearly see that $2 billion in cuts they propose to the health care services for poor women and children will cost the taxpayers billions more in unnecessary health care expenses.

By: Donna Cooper, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, February 10, 2011

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Health Care, Health Reform, Uninsured | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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