From: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:29 PM

To: Wendy Davis; Anthony Spangler

 

Hello – I’m a PolitiFact reporter at the Statesman, and we’d like to get any and all backup, supporting documents, sources, basically anything the Senator relied on in making this statement in her speech at the Democratic convention:

 

"Hundreds of thousands of women no longer have access to basic medical care, life-saving cancer screenings and contraception."

 

Please send also any other info you think I should see or people I should talk to while I’m working on this. And I’m at 512-445-3882 if I can clarify my questions or otherwise assist.

 

Thank you!

Sue

 

From: Anthony Spangler

Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 5:12 PM

To: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

 

I am attaching:

1)          A list of sources that supports WD's statement ("Hundreds of thousands of women now no longer have access to basic medical care, life-saving cancer screenings and contraception. ") that includes a memo from Legislative Budget Board detailing the family planning cuts that will remove 283,909 women from basic healthcare and other services, a letter from Texas Health and Human Services citing the removal of at least 130,000 women from the WHP, a CPPP report on the impacts to women from Family Planning and Women's Health Program cuts, a Dallas Morning News editorial, figures and a link to PolitiFact's own examination of this issue, a link to a UPI story about the State of Texas' continued legal fight to end funding the WHP through Planned Parenthood clinics, and a link to the Austin Chronicle's story on the issue; and,

2)          Attached are the LBB memo and the HHS letter that provides the figures of women being removed from those services, which adds up to 413,909 women.

 

From: Anthony Spangler

Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:28 PM

To: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

 

 I know per our earlier discussion, you said if you still have an unresolved question that you would follow-up with Senator Davis' office. Thank you. Here is Senator Davis' response to your recent questions:

 

 

The key facts:

1) "Hundreds of thousands of women" – Factual based on DSHS family planning cuts already effective (9/1/2011) for 283,909 women (LBB memo already sent).

A May 5, 2011 memo by the Legislative Budget Board (see attached), stated that 283,909 women would lose their basic healthcare services based on 2012-13 budget cuts that were passed in the 82nd Legislative Session.

 

2) "no longer have access" -  Factual based on family planning cuts already effective for low-income, uninsured women. In addition to their loss of coverage, clinics across the state have already closed due to the loss of the state revenue source.

 Planned Parenthood says they have closed 12 clinics statewide, and widespread media reports including one story by the Austin Observer [http://www.texasobserver.org/thewholestar/item/18048-for-womens-health-in-texas-a-week-of-mixed-emotions ]  and the Austin Chronicle [http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2012-02-03/the-destruction-of-texas-health-care/ ] that other (non-Planned Parenthood) clinics will have to close due to family planning cuts.  Regarding the Planned Parenthood clinics that have closed (and anecdotal reports of others closing), you can reach Kelly Hart, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, at Kelly.hart@ppnt.org<mailto:Kelly.hart@ppnt.org>, or you can call her at 214-289-8681<tel:214-289-8681>.  We know that clinics have already closed in South Texas – an area already severely underserved – and the contact there is Patricio Gonzales, CEO of PP of Hidalgo County.  Their number is 956-686-0585<tel:956-686-0585>.  Also, Carole Belver, executive director of Community Action Inc. of Central Texas, who was cited in the Austin Chronicle article regarding the closure of the CAI women's health clinic in Elgin, can be reached at (512)392-1161<tel:%28512%29392-1161>- X 328, or by email at cbelver@communityaction.com<mailto:cbelver@communityaction.com>.

 

3) "basic medical care, life-saving cancer screenings and contraception" – Factual that these services, which were provided through the DSHS family planning program, were cut effective 9/1/2011 in the 2012-13 budget.

A May 5, 2011 memo by the Legislative Budget Board (see attached), stated that 283,909 women would lose their basic healthcare services based on 2012-13 budget cuts that were passed in the 82nd Legislative Session.

 

From: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:33 PM

To: Anthony Spangler

Been getting many people to explain things to me. How about we get on the horn Friday? I’ll be at my desk from 10:30 onwards.  But SO FAR, here’s what I’ve got – please, tell me anything I’m missing, misunderstanding, etc.

 

How many women?

First, as you say, the LBB says 283,909 women would lose basic services because the Lege sent DSHS (a lot) less money in 2011.

Other sources you’ve sent us and we’ve talked to have placed the number variously at 150,000 and 180,000. (The current DSHS estimate is 180,000 to 160,000, they’ve told me.)

 

Have already lost, or are going to lose?

Two possibilities:

·         Davis said “no longer have access” in present tense because she was referring only to DSHS

·         Davis said “no longer have access” but intended to include the DSHS cuts that have already happened as well as the future cuts that might happen to the WHP

 

In the first case, the cuts that have already happened affect somewhere between 284K women and 160K women – so possibly not plural “hundreds of thousands.”

In the second case, the present DSHS cuts + the possible future WHP cuts are estimated to affect “hundreds of thousands,” but not all of those women “have” lost access already.

 

No access at all?

 

So far nobody (including the news stories y’all sent, the DSHS and WHP spokespeople I’ve interviewed, and Kelly Hunt among the contacts you sent me) can quantify the number of women who literally have “no access” to healthcare because of these cuts.

(The Texas Observer story cites LBB, which specifies that it’s “assuming” the women have no other access; the Austin Chronicle story mentions women losing access and quotes Texas providers saying that some women will be completely without access – but it doesn’t give numbers. Kelly Hunt called us back and said that while she is certain some women will have absolutely no access, she thinks it’s probably impossible to gauge how many, because “access” is so individual and depends on factors like income, transportation, clinic location and hours.)

Summary: With what I know now, it seems likely that some Texas women will indeed have no access at all, but nobody can say how many. However, it does seem accurate to say that 284K-160K women lost access to DSHS services.

Definitely hit me with anything you think I’ve missed or overlooked? Or misunderstood? Talk to you Friday!

 

From: Anthony Spangler

To: "Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)"

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 13:56:34 -0400

[ The text in blue is our response to your questions.  The text in italics is Senator Davis’ quote that she sent. ]

 

First, the scenarios that you present neither reflect Senator Davis' actual words nor the context of her words.  The statement that you are examining is part of a speech and a section that specifically addresses the actions taken by the Legislature (and by "those in charge in Austin" or the majority party and their agenda).

 

The Legislative Budget Board estimated during the 82nd Session that, when the 2012-13 family planning cuts take effect, that 283,909 women would lose that coverage.

 

[ Note: The materials I have previously sent you, and this email, are Senator Davis' background responses to your inquiries. The following, however, is the only quote that she is offering. ]

"The Legislative Budget Board estimated during the 82nd Session that when the 2012-13 family planning cuts would be effective that 283,909 women would no longer have healthcare access, and it would be absurd to assume these low-income women without any other form of health insurance somehow in the last eight months have acquired high-paying jobs with commercial health insurance or that they are all now wealthy enough to pay full charge for these services out of pocket.  The women accessing healthcare through family planning services turned to the DSHS services because they have no other options. That option no longer exists." - Senator Wendy Davis.

 

Senator Davis' statements were made from the perspective of a legislator who, as part of a legislative body that meets only every two years, casts votes on bills, that if passed, have a two-year effect.  So her perspective of "no longer" is literal and based on the impact of the legislative action for a biennium.  In this case, unless there is a sudden special session, the impact of the 2012-13 budget cuts to family planning services through DSHS are, at a minimum, going to impact 283,909 low-income, uninsured women, according to LBB estimates.

You have also taken the liberty of proposing two possibilities (Have already lost, or are going to lose?) that ignore the Senator's perspective of budget cuts.  If you are examining Senator Davis' words, Senator Davis said "no longer."  It means exactly what it means. According to Webster's online dictionary (dictionary.com), the phrase "no longer" means: Not any more, as in They no longer make this model of blender.  From a legislative perspective, the DSHS family planning program funding "no longer" exists, and, as per the LBB estimates, 283,909 women will be affected in the 2012-13 biennium. Your publication, the Austin American Statesman, has reported these facts many times to include just a couple (to list of them would not be practical):

… on July 11, 2011 -

 http://www.statesman.com/news/local/austin-area-care-providers-brace-for-state-cuts-1597832.html

Legislature ultimately cut the funding by about $70 million, affecting an estimated 284,000 low-income Texas women. The Legislative Budget Board reported that the reduction could lead to 20,500 additional births.

… and again on Sept. 1, 2011 - http://www.statesman.com/news/local/austin-area-clinics-scramble-to-fill-gap-from-1812129.html?printArticle=y

 

The Texas Legislature approved the cuts this year, seeking to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. Lawmakers cut about $70 million, mostly in federal grants, affecting an estimated 284,000 low-income Texas women and some men who get cancer and STD screenings and treatment. The Legislative Budget Board reported that the reduction  could lead to 20,500 additional births.

 

In both Statesman stories, your publication used the word "affecting" from the verb "affect" - meaning "to act on; produce an effect or change in" – an indicative, present progressive tense.

... Something to note: Are the numbers annualized or are they (DSHS) talking about the number of women in DSHS impacted over the course of the biennium? This is an important distinction.

 

On Jun 15, 2012, at 5:13 PM, "Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)" wrote:

All right – thank you for this.  In the interest of making sure I have things clear, I’m going to oversimplify: We are finding so far that about 160,000 to 180,000 Texas women have lost state family planning services so far in fiscal 2012, but we haven’t found any indications of how many of those women have no other options. I absolutely will try to put that in suitable context, I’ve got no goal to do anything else.

Y’all are not – as far as I can tell, and please let me know – contradicting any of that.  Rather you are stating that the LBB’s biennium estimate of 283,909 is the number Davis’ remark should be gauged against, and that all 283,909 of the women have already lost access because the funding has been killed.  Also, you’re offering Davis’ statement (but no data) that the women have no other options.

All I’m doing here is making double-sure I’m understanding your response– I do of course have your full responses, the info you sent me and your earlier responses (which are on the record, as we discussed) and I think we’ll be posting at least some of that on the Web alongside the story by the way.

From: Anthony Spangler

To: "Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)"

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 19:06:00 -0400

With all due respect, I find your summarization wholly inaccurate. In our first conversation on this issue, you said you would be examining one sentence that Senator Davis' delivered recently at a public event. You said you wanted to know what she meant by the statement and that you were asking for her supporting documentation.

I think Senator Davis was clear in her recent response that the budget decisions would "no longer" provide those services through the DSHS family planning program. You have chosen to ascribe your own definition to what she meant by "no longer" as to how many women are without coverage in the first year of the biennium cuts. So, I feel you have recklessly disregarded her answer.

Secondly, the LBB, in stating these cuts would impact 283,909 women in the 2012-13 budget year, would have noted in its report to the Legislature if there were alternative options to these low-income, uninsured women. The absence of such information in the LBB report is a clear indication that no alternatives exist.

From: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:12 PM

To: Anthony Spangler

I have a summary of this part of your argument, but I was confused as to whether this should be attributed to you or to Davis. In case it makes print, tell me which? And if you think I've summed up this part of the argument fairly, not overstated, etc?

.....  She also disagreed with our understanding of the phrase “no longer have access,” saying that rather than giving a number of people who had lost access as of June 9, she was referring to a completed action in the past (the 2011 Legislature’s budget cut) that has consequences for hundreds of thousands of women in the two-year period covered by that budget.

From: Anthony Spangler

To: "Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)"

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2012 08:57:32 -0400

You have worded the Senator's position in a way that is nearly impossible to follow.  Wouldn't it be better and clearer to say:

Senator Davis also believes that we are misunderstanding the phrase "no longer have access".  Davis points out that the cuts made by the legislature denying funds for women's healthcare have been enacted and, short of a special session, won't be reversed, so hundreds of thousands of women will be denied care during the two-year period covered by the budget.

From: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

Bcc:

Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 3:10 PM

I got an interesting response from Fran Hagerty of Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas – I would like to ask each of you BCC’d here for your response or thoughts on this, if you have some?

On the question of how many Texas women have no access to health care because of the DSHS cuts by Lege in 2011:

Oversimplified, I believe Hagerty is saying that the estimates we have aren’t very valid (because the picture’s so complex) and also because of the $5 million DSHS got to carry over from 2011 (on a one-time basis, to ease the transition).

These might well be the best operating estimates the agencies can muster, I’m not saying that. Just that Hagerty believes they don’t show what’s actually happening. She notes, which I’m sure is inarguable, that we won’t really know till the data roll in, around 2013 or ’14.

So – until then – I take this as a warning against relying on the “150,000,” “130,000” type estimates we’ve all been discussing. (The ones reached by taking a budget cut and dividing by dollars-spent-per-person.)

Do y’all agree or disagree?

 From: Anthony Spangler

Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 4:22 PM

To: Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)

Given that the data has not yet been collected on the impact of the budget cuts, it seems the LBB figures given to the Legislature are the best estimate on the number of women who will no longer have access to these services, to which Senator Davis’ statement was based.

Senator Davis’ response:

“I think it is fair to say that legislators make decisions based on reliance of data provided to them by agencies such as the LBB, which is a non-partisan advisory board to the legislature, during the budgeting process.  Based on that estimate, it is accurate to say that the majority made a budgetary decision, knowingly severing services for that number of women.”

From: Anthony Spangler

To: "Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)"

Cc: Wendy Davis

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2012 09:17:15 -0400

It seems your PolitiFact has gone beyond examining Senator Davis' statement and calls into question the LBB estimates. Have you called LBB?

"Owen, Sue (CMG-Austin)"

Thu 6/21/2012 10:58 AM

Oh yes, I talked to the LBB. They said, among other things, that they are specifically NOT making any statements about any clients or clinics outside the DSHS program, and in fact they included a caveat in the text itself, so there's no chance that their failure to mention other options means there are no other options.