Monday, May 14, 2007

Consumer Health Care

The Wall Street Journal has an article by this title. Walmart and CVS Pharmacy now offer walk-in medical service for simple problems. The WSJ author emphasizes the convenience and low cost that consumer-based, non-governmental medical care can offer.
I am interested in these walk-in clinics for a different reason. Many states award contracts for medical care to Planned Parenthood clinics. I'm told by my friends in Pennsylvania that Planned Parenthood has the state contract to do cervical cancer screening, and STD testing. This is legitimate medical care. But why does Planned Parenthood have to do it? The state could just as well give the contract for simple routine testing to WalMart.
This is becoming an important question in Texas, which recently began state funding for an alternatives to abortion program. The funds for the abortion alternatives program are taken from the family planning budget, which includes funding for various reproductive health activities. Naturally, the Planned Parenthood types are incensed that their funding is being cut, in favor of alteratives to abortion programs. The abortion proponents are casting the conflict in terms of medical care (which is what Planned Parenthood provides) versus talking (which is what the abortion alternatives program provides.)
This conflict could be resolved by taking all the medical contracts away from an ideological organization like Planned Parenthood, and giving the contracts instead to these walk-in clinics based in Big Box retail stores.
"No state funding for abortion," is an extremely shallow claim, if in fact, the states are funding abortion providers for other services. Money is fungible. If they are making money doing cancer screenings, that is revenue that is available to fund their other activities, including abortion.
Let WalMart and CVS provide these services.

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