Over the last eight years, citing budget constraints, Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature have dropped hundreds of thousands of mostly poor and working-class Texans from the rolls of government-sponsored insurance like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Nearly 6.5 million Texans are now uninsured even though the majority of them have full time jobs.
Premiums in Texas' unregulated health insurance industry have soared by 105 percent over the last 10 years according to the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. Texas employers have responded by raising employee deductibles, often dramatically or by dropping their coverage entirely.The problem is that the people who make the laws in Texas--Rick the Perry and his predominantly republican pals in the Texas state legislature--over 45% of whom are either lawyers or business people--don't really care all that much. I wonder why...
|Data Source: National Council of State Legislatures|
The report explained that Texas doesn't just the highest level of uninsured in the country, but has also gutted the family planning and women's healthcare funding, in response to the anti-abortion demographic there, of which Perry is a leading advocate. Forget the fact that the clinics, which have had their funding cut by 2/3, provide healthcare services beyond reproductive services. Many of these women use free health services as their only source of healthcare, period, not just for reproductive services. As the report explains:
Only 48 percent of Texans have private health insurance and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all, more than any other state. To fill this gap, the state's hospital emergency rooms and dozens of women's health clinics have stepped in to serve the uninsured across Texas.For hundreds of thousands of Texas women and teens between the ages of 13 and 50, the 71 family planning clinics in the state serve as their gateway to health care, and for many of those women, visiting the clinics is the only time they see a nurse practitioner or a doctor. Rosalinda Roman, 19, discovered the People's Clinic in East Austin after she got pregnant at age 16 and gave birth to a boy. Now, she comes to the clinic every three months to get her comprehensive well-woman exam and her contraceptive shot.
"I come here and I do my annual physical here. I also get birth control here [and] Depo shot," Roman says. "I don't know what I would do with a second child right now."
With the encouragement of staff at the clinic, Roman has gone back to school and is two months away from becoming a medical technician.
This year, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and Gov. Rick Perry cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds. Dr. Celia Neavel runs the People's Clinic in East Austin and says it is a devastating blow.
"So that particular funding was used obviously for birth control, but also pap smears, breast cancer screening, for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia [and] high cholesterol," Neavel says.
|What is it with right wing crazies who want to deny healthcare to people?|
But hey, cuts to reproductive services will save money, right? Um, no, that's very not right.
According to the report:
|Make more kids! |
Doesn't matter if they're impoverished!
The budget cuts to family planning clinics won't in the end save Texas money. The state estimates nearly 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.
In San Antonio alone, unplanned children born to teens would fill 175 kindergarten classrooms each year. What's particularly galling to family planning advocates is that part of the money, $8.4 million, that was cut from family planning will now go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the state. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are part of the pro-life movement's answer to family planning clinics.