NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

What does Rob McKenna have against family planning?

Yes­ter­day, guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Rob McKen­na post­ed on Cross­cut a vari­ety of state­ments on how to impair our state Med­ic­aid sys­tem, and chose to omit any sort of con­tent on how con­se­quences of those changes would affect our state.

While blast­ing Med­ic­aid expansion(which, by the way, is in con­trast to how 67% of Amer­i­cans feel), Mr. McKen­na ignores the fact that the Med­ic­aid expan­sion for fam­i­ly plan­ning has increased ser­vice to 99,000 Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, increased con­tra­cep­tion use, and decreased unin­tend­ed preg­nan­cy, and if max­i­mized, this expan­sion could serve and addi­tion­al 2,700 peo­ple, pre­vent 370 addi­tion­al unin­tend­ed preg­nan­cies, and actu­al­ly save the state $1.1 mil­lion dol­lars per annum. This is not exact­ly some­thing the “state can’t afford”, but of course, Rob McKen­na isn’t known for being for­ward on these issues.

Addi­tion­al­ly, McKen­na pro­posed insti­tut­ing fees on low-income indi­vid­u­als look­ing for health­care ser­vices, which, as stat­ed by the Cen­ter for Bud­get and Pol­i­cy Pri­or­i­ties, would cause them to stop using crit­i­cal ser­vices, and well as “trig­ger the sub­se­quent use of more expen­sive forms of care such as emer­gency room care or hos­pi­tal­iza­tion”. Par­don me, but I’m not pre­cise­ly sure where this counts as reform.

But, of course, there’s more. In McKenna’s plan, he rehash­es the con­ser­v­a­tive plan to block grant Med­ic­aid, a plan who’s most recent stan­dard bear­er has been Tea Par­ty Con­gress­man Paul Ryan. Block grant are not exact­ly a new idea, and First Focus, a “bipar­ti­san advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion” for chil­dren and fam­i­lies, has come right out against the block grant pro­gram, hold­ing no punch­es in their report, “Bad for Kids”. Only 35% of peo­ple believe that Med­ic­aid should be reduced to a block grant pro­gram, and First Focus con­tin­ues in their report to say that insti­tut­ing a block grant sys­tem “could unrav­el decades of progress toward reduc­ing the num­ber of unin­sured chil­dren and fun­da­men­tal­ly under­mine the nation’s long-stand­ing com­mit­ment to guar­an­tee­ing vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren health care cov­er­age”.

Pre­vent­ing the expan­sion of Med­ic­aid, or pur­su­ing these “reforms”, would be bad for fam­i­ly plan­ning and bad for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans of all ages. I just hope this can­di­date for gov­er­nor has bet­ter ideas on oth­er issues, because his plan for Med­ic­aid def­i­nite­ly seems like a strike out.

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