This week for RH Reality Check, I look at two questions, one of which is more infuriating than the other. The first is, what will Texas’ new state-funded WHP look like? The second is, Can Rick Perry tell the fucking truth about any of this for once? The short answers are: hopefully a lot like the federal one and no, probably not.
I want to pull out the Perry part from my piece here because I think it’s important to call the Governor out for his decontextualization of what he’s done to Texas women. He and his office have deliberately chosen to downplay Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the WHP and, in my opinion, delicately smear Planned Parenthood while giving themselves a nice opportunity for plausible denial. Here’s what:
In a press release, Perry’s office made the following bullet points about Planned Parenthood/WHP:
• Under federal law, states administer Medicaid and have the right to set the criteria for “qualified providers” in the program, not Washington. This is exactly what Texas has done, in accordance with Texas law. Texas law prohibits tax cheats, deadbeat parents or people suspected of serious abuse from participating as a provider in Medicaid, even though federal law does not.
• There are more than 2,500 qualified providers in the WHP that operate more than 4,600 locations across the state.
• Planned Parenthood represents less than two percent of providers in the WHP.
• Planned Parenthood’s cost per client is 43 percent higher than most other providers, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Sure makes it sound like Planned Parenthood might be a dishonest agency with financial mismanagement issues and a questionable ability to provide any significant amount of care, no? Yes. Here’s what’s actually true:
RH Reality Check contacted Perry’s office to find out if it wished the public to believe that Planned Parenthood might be a “tax cheat” or “suspected of serious abuse,” and were told by Nashed that despite the language in the release, “in this case it’s simply because they are an abortion affiliate.”
And while there may be 2,500 qualified providers, most of those providers saw a tiny percentage of clients compared to the tens of thousands seen at Planned Parenthood clinics–they may be “two percent” of the providers in the WHP, but they see about half the women in the program.
And while Perry seems to imply that Planned Parenthood’s services are especially costly–“Planned Parenthood’s cost per client is 43 percent higher than most other providers”–in fact, they’re just about in line with what federally-qualified health centers spend per client. According to Stephanie Goodman at the HHSC, the FQHC’s spent $246 per client in 2011, while Planned Parenthood spent less than twenty dollars more apiece, at $265 per client. All other providers spent $186 per client.
The cost disparity, says Goodman, is probably due to the “number or types of services billed” by FQHC’s and Planned Parenthood, as “rates are the same across providers.” Which indicates not that Planned Parenthood mismanages funds or is more expensive than other providers, merely that they provide more and comprehensive services.
And another thing:
On Governor Perry’s official state website dedicated to the WHP issue, his office says that, “In FY 2010, nearly 80 percent of women served received WHP services from non- Planned Parenthood providers,” which is true, but might lead readers to believe that Planned Parenthood saw only 20 percent of WHP clients. That’s not the case: that year, according to the HHSC, Planned Parenthood saw 51,952 WHP clients out of a total of 105,958, while 83,003 clients were seen at non-Planned Parenthood providers. It would be more accurate, then, to say that women in the WHP used a combination of Planned Parenthood and non-Planned Parenthood providers for different family planning services, and also that Planned Parenthood provided a significant portion of that care.
Read the whole piece for a full breakdown of the ugh.