Clearly the Texas legislature functions as a strongly "pro-life" elective body. . .up to a point.
The legislators' decisions during this session indicate that they are determined to take rather drastic measures to protect the unborn. However, once a child arrives in a low-income family, all bets are off!
The following story was reported by Christy Hoppe on the actions of our elected representatives appeared in The Dallas Morning News last Thursday, March 10.
The notion that non-profit organizations and churches can pick up the slack in the budget is simply ill-informed. Further, the costs associated with cuts in funding for the needed care typically are passed along by medical professionals to those with private insurance. The fact is, helping poor children helps us all.
But, you read the report and let me know your reactions.
Bill on pre-abortion sonograms comes as Texas legislators plan to slash contraceptive, OB-GYN care for poor
AUSTIN — The Legislature’s push to limit abortions by compelling women to see a sonogram of fetal development comes as the state is cutting back on medical services to low-income pregnant women.
Republican lawmakers are poised to slash $850 million from pregnancy care and family planning in the next two-year budget — a 29 percent cut from current spending.
That would shut down avenues for poor women to find contraception and choke off payments to OB-GYN doctors who might care for those who become pregnant, advocates say.
“There is a responsibility that comes with this desire to tell women what to do with their pregnancy. Clearly, we’re not meeting it,” said Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, who has sponsored a bill to extend women’s health services.
Abortion opponents say that although the budget crunch is real, the sonogram requirement isn’t connected to it.
“We can’t solve our problems by eliminating people,” said Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life and a strong supporter of the sonogram requirement that both the House and Senate have approved.
The solution, she said, is for private pregnancy crisis centers, adoption services, religious groups and communities to step up their help for poor women.
“We will pick up the pace. We will meet the need,” Wright said.
Fifty-five percent of Texas births are to women on Medicaid.
Payments to doctors
Most of the proposed budget cuts would come through reducing payments to doctors, who are reimbursed for the care they provide pregnant women on Medicaid. It means physicians will either turn away poor patients or lose money treating them.
Tom Banning, chief executive of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, outlined a grim reality: Medicaid reimburses doctors 70 percent for the cost of services. Most physicians make up the losses in their charges to privately insured patients, but the proposed cuts make that equation harder.
The state has cut reimbursements 2 percent this year and is proposing 10 percent cuts for next year. In addition, Congress is considering a Medicare reimbursement cut of 31 percent.
“It’s got the doctors completely spooked,” Banning said, and many plan to stop seeing patients who require federal help. That will drive more patients to emergency rooms, where their conditions are often worse and
more expensive to treat.
In Athens in East Texas, a group of family doctors began offering prenatal screening for Medicaid patients three years ago. When they started, 120 newborns a year from the area were ending up in the neonatal intensive care unit of Dallas County’s Parkland Memorial Hospital, Banning said.
Last year, it was down to two infants. But if doctors’ payments are cut, “you’ll see a tidal wave hit the emergency room of women who haven’t gotten any prenatal care,” Banning said.
To read entire report click here.