Today, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee debated HB 228 — pithily named the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act — which bans taxpayer dollars from going to any group (like Planned Parenthood) that performs abortions even though existing state law and the Hyde Amendment already prohibit the use of state/federal funds for abortion.
As with a similar bill in Texas, HB 228 jeopardizes New Hampshire’s 1.4 billion Medicaid program since states cannot restrict patient access to particular providers based on the services they provide, and still receive federal funds.
The bill’s backers had some fairly bizarre arguments as to why the bill is actually a good thing for women:
Rep. Warren Groen of Rochester, one of the bill’s sponsors, told the committee that hospitals and other providers could still provide abortions if they create separate business entities to do so. He called the bill an attempt to use taxpayer money more efficiently by directing it toward facilities that provide a broader array of health care services.
Former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican from Colorado, echoed those comments in her testimony, saying the bill would make it easier for women to be treated by providers who can serve all their health care needs, from dental care to cancer screenings.
“It represents the equivalent of a free upgrade to first class from coach in women’s health care,” said Musgrave, vice president of government affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group.
To anyone who understands how the provision of women’s healthcare services operates, especially for women who rely on Medicaid and Planned Parenthood exclusively for care, Musgrave’s argument is outright stupid:
Jennifer Frizzell, senior policy adviser for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said that view shows a poor understanding of New Hampshire’s health care system.
“In five of those six locations where Planned Parenthood offers health services (in New Hampshire), there are no community health centers,” she said. “Some of the logic in the bill suggests that if you take funding from Medicaid and other critical women’s health programs away from Planned Parenthood, that there are other providers in the community that will step up to serve this population in a commensurate way. But we know that’s not the case.”
We also know, that should this bill pass, the government will drop New Hampshire from Medicaid, just as it did with Texas, to the detriment of low-income women. This bill will not be a “free upgrade in women’s healthcare.” It will decimate healthcare for low-income women — just ask women in Texas.
But I guess that doesn’t matter to wingnuts who consider facts to be opinions with which they disagree.
[via RH Reality Check]
image via Amanda Underwood, all rights reserved.