Democratic lubrication for a more perfect union

Birth (control) defects

Scenting on the trail of Radar Love, our DNA imprinted in the era of inhibition-free hook-ups long before the prophylactic alphabet (AIDS, HPV, drug-resistant STDs) conflicted the libido of a younger generation, Queque sought nirvana in the poor-
wo/man’s euphoric. And still does, frankly, but within the circle of a monogamous,
v-sected relationship these days.

Good thing, too, because evolution’s free gift to the homo sapiens ain’t so cheap anymore thanks to the feds, who “accidentally” changed the real-world costs of the pill to public-health providers (read: the clinics college students, working- and Medicaid-dependant women frequent in search of affordable gyn-nastics and b.c.) with the 1995 Deficit Reduction Act.

Texas, in its epic neanderthalian way, multiplied the damage to its hoi-polloi clinics — including personal heroes Planned Parenthood — by leaving its Medicaid reimbursement rate for oral contraceptives prescribed at those Class D pharmacies at Nixonian levels (less than three bucks a pop, that is; what kind of consequence-free frolic can you buy with that?) while enriching retail pharmacies at more than 10 times that rate. Salt in the wound: Expenses for 451 other drugs were boosted last fall, leaving the pill the lone rejectee from a June 18, 2007, hearing recommending the increases.

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All this totally unsexy squeezing and pinching was fixin’ to affect the ability of the people’s clinics to provide b.c. to a significant portion of its patients, forcing women to travel to a second location for their pills, a proven non-effective strategy — like abstinence-only education. But hard work by your state congressional delegation — namely Representative Mike Villarreal, who ran an effective online petition — pierced the human diaphragm who was preventing common sense from fertilizing public-health policy: Commissioner Albert Hawkins over at the Texas Department of State Health Services. And so, beginning September 1, the Medicaid reimbursement rate for oral b.c. will rocket up to $20.88.

You may now celebrate for three minutes (the average amount of time guys take to, um, be available for conversation, according to one study), then back to work because the struggle is far from over, says Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas President Jeffrey Hons. The increased reimbursement rate will cover between 7 and 19 percent of PPSCTX clients, and although that underwrites a significant number of monthly prescriptions, one concern he has is that DSHS will also raise the allowance for oral contraceptives provided to low-income women under federal Title X and state Title XX to the same level — which would mean they’d run through that fixed pot of money 10 times faster.

“Our challenges are to see what we can do to enroll more and more women in Medicaid,” Hons said, “and to find more philanthropy to fill in the gaps on `Title X and Title XX`.” Keep an eye on the Current’s news section for more on this story.

Bumped by the Apocalypse

Former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Bradford just wanted a few minutes to address the San Antonio City Council last week about accelerating plans to invest in new nuclear plants. He had a small group to address at 7 p.m. and so wanted to make sure he would be on the early roll of speakers when public comment opened at 6. After being assured he was first at bat, he got bumped once by Council Fiesta primping that ran the clock down to 6:30. Then speakers were pulled out from earlier items, the last warning Council of impending Apocalypse complete with overhead visuals and the Beast’s proprietary triple-six.

While the set-up was perfect for a Bradford segue into nukes — a three-minute warning for our Council about being jettisoned into economic oblivion — time was soon up and the former head of state utilities had to cruise for his talk at Trinity University. Bradford, we hardly knew ye.

The first City investment in new nukes could come in the form of CPS’s planned rate hike the Council is now considering. Next, the Council must wrangle with a $216-mil CPS request for exploratory and design work for two new plants. After that? A decade or more of rate hikes to cover what could turn out to be an $18-billion mistake (See “Nuclear genie’s cash jolt,” April 2-8).

Thirst for justice

In more End Times news, dead and drying Hill Country springs that have long fed the creeks, streams, and rivers that help keep our beloved Edwards Aquifer full are in desperate need of understanding if state water supplies are going to sustain an expected doubling of population by 2060.

“It could happen around more of our state if we don’t develop it in a competent manner,” Texas Parks and Wildthangs aquatic biologist Chad Norris told a gathering beside the dry Helotes Creek on Sunday. “Pumping at the rate of recharge is not really sustainable.”

Expectations of the Texas Water Development Board are for the Trinity Aquifer, which intermingles with the Edwards, to drop 100 feet in the coming decades, he said.

In a state where the Legislature is strongly geared to growth over conservation, another warning sign for shameless H2O imbibers is an Austin judge’s refusal to approve Save Our Springs Alliance’s reorganization plans in a bankruptcy-recovery case. SOS began doing the backstroke after being ordered to eat a $300,000 court bill after a failed frontal on developer Bill Gunn and the Lazy Nine utility district. SOS’s attorney said the group that has long forced policymakers to protect the Hill Country’s water resources in spite of monetary salivations “will evaluate our options.” Between the lines you may be reading the ever subtle: “Send money now or your water gets it.”