Court upholds legality of Texas’ defunding of Planned Parenthood.
On October 25, 2012 the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Planned Parenthood’s request to rehear a case that will allow Texas to deny the organization State funding under the new Texas Women’s Health Program. In August, a three judge panel representing the 5th Circuit Court ruled that Texas could deny funding to Planned Parenthood. Lawyers representing Planned Parenthood appealed the panel’s decision and requested an en banc hearing before the court. An en banc hearing means that the court’s judges would rule on the case, instead of a panel as was done in August. The court’s refusal to hear the case en banc means that effective November 1, 2012 Texas will no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood.
Texas has thought of a rather novel way to simultaneously punish poor women and Planned Parenthood. In a move that is more about positioning himself as a hero to the anti abortion conservative crowd, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, has taken on both the evil Federal Government and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. One of the more controversial aspects of the ACA is an expansion of the Medicaid Program. Medicaid is the jointly fund State/Federal program designed to provide healthcare to the lowest income individuals of each state. Currently, all 50 states participate in Medicaid, however, each state’s program is autonomous and states are allowed a great deal of discretion in the amount of services they provide. A service covered in Illinois might not be covered in South Dakota. Without federal funding most states could not afford their individual Medicaid programs. In 2011, the Texas Medicaid budget was approximately 27 billion dollars. There is simply no way that Texas could self fund a Medicaid program. However, by refusing federal dollars for the Medicaid expansion, Texas is able to come up with a creative way to defund Planned Parenthood.
Texas is opting out of the ACA’s mandated Medicaid expansion in Texas and replacing it with the Texas Women’s Health Program. This allows Perry/Texas to refuse federal funding mandates and pay for only the services which they believe a woman should receive. Under the Texas Medicaid program, approximately 40 million dollars in 2011 went to fund women’s healthcare services which will now be covered under the new Texas Women’s Health Program. Of that 40 million the Federal government funded roughly 90% of the cost of those services. However, the sticking point for Texas was that under the Medicaid program, Federal rules mandated that Planned Parenthood was allowed to be a participating medical provider for women’s healthcare services. Texas was not allowed to single out Planned Parenthood for defunding and still receive Medicaid funding. By creating their own Women’s Health Program, Texas can remain in the Medicaid program and at the same time have their own completely state funded program for women’s healthcare services. The end result is that Texas is now able to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood.
The conservative war on women is real. As of this writing 6 other states are considering following the Texas model. By refusing to even consider raising taxes, Texas is facing a severe budget crisis of their own making. While the state will not be able to cut their way to prosperity, they will be able to eliminate those programs which conservatives hate. That means that healthcare for the poor will disappear. How Texas will fund their new program has never been explained. It was never about funding a new program or providing healthcare for women. It was always about punishment. Conservatives believe in their hearts that the poor exist only because of their bad life decisions. The poor only have themselves to blame for their own poverty. So, in their eyes the poor sluts of Texas will no longer be able to have multiple abortions instead of living a moral life. One can almost hear the Texan conservative men saying: If only the women of Texas would quit being poor and quit being sluts then everything would be just fine.
Now that Texas has won this case other states will be emboldened to follow with their own ‘healthcare programs’ for women. Planned Parenthood has not said how they will make up the lost revenue and continue full operations in Texas. The organization has an annual budget of about a billion dollars and ultimately receives federal funding of between 300 and 400 million dollars a year. It is unlikely that donations alone can make up the loss in revenue that will take place under the new Texas Women’s Health Program. It is almost a certainty that Planned Parenthood’s services in Texas will be cut. It is a certainty that poor women without any other healthcare options will suffer, which is what the conservatives wanted all along. There was a popular punk song in the 80s called, Kill The Poor. When I was younger and angrier I believed that killing the poor was exactly what conservatives wanted. As I have aged I have come to realize that is not true at all. Conservatives do not want to kill the poor; they want to make the poor suffer. Blaming the victim is not enough for them, they need to punish the victim.