Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Aug/10

19

Wisdom in Wisconsin

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Good news from the Wall Street Journal:

Wisconsin is pushing to expand a controversial program that uses federal Medicaid funds to provide free birth-control pills, vasectomies and other forms of contraception to low-income people, an effort made possible by the federal health-care overhaul. It and 26 other states already provide free contraception and other reproductive-health services through a Medicaid pilot project to lower-earning women who otherwise wouldn’t qualify. Among other things, the women get access to prescription birth control, Pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and, in some states, infertility treatments. Women qualify for Wisconsin’s program if they make up to $21,600 a year for single people—twice the federal poverty level.

“Controversial”? Why?

Well, for one good reason. The program appears to allow youngsters (as young as 15) to participate without parental consent, something, I reckon, that should only be permitted under fairly rare circumstances.

As for the rest, well, we have to look to the usual suspects to discover the source of that “controversy”, namely the US Conference of Catholic bishops, and, an even worse sign, an organization with the word “family” in its name, in this case something called Wisconsin Family Action. It’s to be noted that these groups’ objections to what the state of Wisconsin is doing are largely based on their own notions of morality, not taxpayer value (a principle generally of little interest to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, a reliable bastion of the religious left). They are, of course, perfectly entitled to their opinion, but taxpayers would do well to ignore it. A more important question to ask is whether such programs represent value for money. As you’d expect, the Wisconsin program appears to be just that:

Wisconsin says about 53,000 people receive extra family-planning help under Medicaid. With federal Medicaid funds reimbursing 90% of the cost of most family-planning services, the state spent $18.4 million on the program in 2008. That same year, the state’s health department estimates, the program prevented an estimated 11,064 unplanned pregnancies, at a savings it estimates at $139.1 million—savings, it says, in expenditures to cover the birth of those children and other health care for them. Most state Medicaid programs have a higher income limit for pregnant women, while setting a lower limit for women after they give birth and often excluding childless adults. Proponents of Wisconsin’s approach say states can save money by providing more family-planning aid earlier instead of waiting until a woman gets pregnant to widen the net for Medicaid.

Makes sense to me.

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9 comments

  • Brett Stevens · August 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Good. Our planet is overflowing with people, and overpopulation is the primary threat to our environment.

    No matter how many lightbulbs we recycle, if more people come along, they obliterate those gains.

    Discouraging breeding among those who are having a tough time adapting to their environment is a sensible start.

    Until we can find a way to make the music of Justin Bieber instantly sterilize listeners (maybe it already does?) this is about as good as it gets.

  • Florida resident · August 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Agreed. Thank you.
    Respectfully, Florida resident.

  • Black Death · August 19, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    On Wisconsin! This is the first good thing I’ve heard about the health care “reform” legislation. All reproductive services (sterilization for both men and women, contraception, abortion, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, etc.) should be “free” (actually, paid for by taxpayers) and readily available. The point is to allow poor, low IQ people to get them – affluent, high IQ individuals already do. The major goal is to reduce breeding by the parasitic lower classes – the eugenic effects of abortion, for example, are hard to ignore. I love to make this point to leftists and watch them cringe. Of course, it is possible to elicit a similar reaction from righties who are anti-abortion. Idiots!

  • Polichinello · August 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Whatever oppo the RCs throw up will be a mere prelude the minority groups’ hue and cry once they figure out whom these programs will disproportionately affect.

  • Susan · August 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I recently read about a survey done by a woman at the Harvard Medical School, who studied 1500 (I think that was the number) teenaged girls who’d become pregnant outside of marriage. None of them, as far as I can gather, had used contraception, and in fact either actively planned to get pregnant or didn’t care if they did. So I wonder to what extent the offer of free contraception will work. In my state, a lot of these programs have been in place for a while, and it really doesn’t seem to have lowered the out-of-wedlock birthrate appreciably.

  • Don Kenner · August 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I like the sentiment of the posting, but I have to agree with Susan. If you think such give-a-ways will have a real effect on the underclass, then you have a view of the underclass (or human nature in general) that is much more optimistic than mine.

    Too bad for the Bishops; they can’t say the obvious: “It won’t work! They’ll breed anyway!” Having idealized and mythologized the poor to the point where every down-and-out is a Saint in the making, who’s holiness is cut short by the callousness of the suburbs (or the grinding wheel of Satanic capitalism), they are severely limited in what they can argue. Oh well; boldly stating the truth was not a big thing for them, anyway.

  • Lon Newman · August 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Thinking about access to routine preventive primary health care (including reproductive health care)has changed over the last generation. Advocates must emphasize that family planning is voluntary and that women are able to determine for themselves whether and when to have children. Secondly, empowering women economically and educationally has resulted in men and women CHOOSING to have smaller families. We (environmental advocates and health care providers) have changed from “Population Control” as a frame, to “population stabilization” and voluntary access to reproductive health care. The savings in health care achieved by preventing unintended pregnancies and the improvements in maternal and child health are incontrovertible. A good-faith approach to the ‘controversy’ requires people to be alert to judgment-laden terms like “unwed – illegitimate – eugenicists” and on and on . . . the central point is that women must be informed, empowered, and enabled to make family planning decisions and to receive the health care they want and need. The outcomes, while they certainly are seen as threatening to the moral and political authority of several institutions, are positive by nearly every objective measure.

  • cynthia curran · August 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Well, liberal dems have been giving free contraception for years and actually teen pregancy rates have not dropped much and adult non-martial situations increase. And this is not among women with good income. The state still ends up supporting a lot of kids more to single families. In fact, the growth of the hispanic population in the US which has a higher illegalimate rate than whites and asians still means a lot of people buy for someone elses kid. Changed immirgation or the moviation to immirgate to the us from Mexico and Latin Countries. The teen children of illegal immirgants and legal immirgants have a higher birthrate at the teen years than white teens.

  • Lon Newman · August 23, 2010 at 5:15 am

    “liberal dems”
    “free contraception”
    “teen pregnancy rates haven’t dropped much”
    “illegitimacy”
    “unwed”
    “buy for someone else’s kid”
    “teen birth rate among illegal immigrants”

    There’s too much ‘stuff’ most of it not quite correct — thrown in for me to try to make a rational response, Cynthia. Most of these comments are irrelevant to the Medicaid family planning expansion – which is not available to undocumented residents. If you’re making an argument that it should be, because the unintended pregnancy rate is high among the population that is being denied access to reproductive health care, and those births are paid by taxpayers and the new citizen is eligible for health care, it is a very good argument . . . but i don’t think that’s what you’re trying to say.

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