Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Planned Parenthood closure sign of things to come

The Planned Parenthood facility in Longview is closing due to federal Medicaid cuts:
The closure of the small clinic, which is open each Thursday, comes as low-income patients are having difficulty finding reproductive care and Cowlitz County has growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jennifer Allen said.

The clinic provides STD testing and treatment, condoms, menopause treatment and gynecological exams. It has operated in the county Health Department's Longview headquarters for the past three years.

Allen said Friday that the closure was necessary after federal officials cut family planning services for 7,800 people in the "Take Charge" program. The clinic's last day will be March 8.
If this seems short sighted, that may be just the tip of the iceberg, according to a recent report issued by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It lists some "key findings:"
The Administration’s budget would cut federal Medicaid funding by $25 billion over the next five years ($61 billion over the next ten years).

$21 billion of the $25 billion in federal savings would be accomplished by shifting costs from the federal government to the states.

To compensate for the loss of federal Medicaid funds, states would have to choose between cutting back on their Medicaid programs by reducing eligibility, benefits, or payments to providers; cutting back on other state programs and using those funds to replace federal Medicaid dollars lost; or increasing taxes.
Broadly speaking, most Americans seem to understand that the health care system needs major reforms. It's going to be a major factor in the 2008 elections.

There will be those on the right who immediately start babbling about "socialized medicine," which may be a convenient talking point but ignores the real fact that health care is currently being rationed by private, for-profit corporations already. Try gettitng a prior-authorization for a medicine if you don't believe me.

There should be some middle ground, if the debate doesn't immediately go south into "Harry and Louise" territory.

And really, what kind of society cuts off health care to low-income people? The Bush administration is a slave to ideology and doesn't care what happens to real people. It's pretty sick stuff.

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