During Bobby Jindal’s two terms as governor, his administration has blocked Medicaid expansion in Louisiana, cut public health care funding to the bone, closed mental health facilities, closed the Baton Rouge General-Mid City emergency room, closed the publicly funded Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge, and has not adequately funded the new University Medical Center in New Orleans.
A 50-state study puts Jindal’s Louisiana in second-to-last place for children’s health outcomes.
Under Jindal’s tenure as governor, Louisiana has had some of the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis and HIV/AIDS in the nation. Teen pregnancy and teen birth rates remain stubbornly high. While abortion rates have decreased around the country, they have increased in Louisiana.
Jindal’s administration has repeatedly blocked legislation that would call for mandatory, age-appropriate, medically accurate sexual-health education in schools. Last year Jindal banned Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in Louisiana public schools.
And now Jindal wants to cut health care options in Louisiana even more.
Jindal is attempting to end the Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. Politicians in Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee have tried and failed to exclude Planned Parenthood from public health programs like Medicaid. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reminded Jindal that it’s a violation of federal law to prevent Medicaid patients from obtaining services, including family planning services, from any qualified provider.
Defunding Planned Parenthood and terminating Medicaid contracts won’t harm women’s health care services, Jindal claims. He asserts that Planned Parenthood is just one of many providers in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas and that shutting it down does not jeopardize access. This is simply not true.
Over the past seven years, the Office of Public Health has drastically cut funding for family-planning services in Louisiana, a state already unable to meet the health care needs of the most vulnerable because of a significant shortage of Medicaid-affiliated providers.
By defunding Planned Parenthood, Jindal threatens health care services for more than 5,200 women, men and young people who rely on Medicaid for care at Planned Parenthood health centers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Planned Parenthood’s mission in Louisiana is to provide access to high quality health care and education services with a focus on prevention and contraception.
Medicaid covers basic preventive health care such as lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. The men and women who benefit from this funding often have limited health care access, and Planned Parenthood is often their primary health care provider.
Planned Parenthood has been the leading reproductive health care provider in Louisiana for the past three decades. Our health centers in Baton Rouge and New Orleans received more than 15,000 health care visits last year alone.
Planned Parenthood is currently constructing a larger health center on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans. Once open, our new health center will be able to more than double health care services such as life-saving cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, contraception, and other high-quality, affordable health care that is so desperately needed in the greater New Orleans area.
Louisiana needs more health care — not more of Jindal’s roadblocks and political theater. His health care record speaks for itself: slash budgets and services at the expense of those who need help the most. The public health system in his home state is already in shambles. Now with his call to defund Planned Parenthood, where will the women and men in Louisiana turn for these vital services?
Despite the governor’s relentless attacks, Planned Parenthood’s commitment to the community remains intact. Please join us Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge for a rally against defunding.
Planned Parenthood will fight to ensure we can continue to be here for the women, men and their families who rely on us for high-quality, compassionate care. We believe in health care. No matter what.
Melissa Flournoy, PhD, is state director of Planned Parenthood Louisiana.