The Senate is currently debating what’s being referred to as “Round 3” of the COVID-19 financial bailout packages. When it’s all said and done, it looks like Congress might wind up spending a couple of trillion (yes, with a “t”) dollars to rescue an economy that’s being absolutely crushed by (necessary and lifesaving) widespread travel restrictions, shutdowns, and shelter-in-place orders.
The plan Senate Republicans just released includes a section on providing loans to small businesses—loans that could be used for things like paying employees, covering rent and utilities, and maintaining employee health coverage. The idea is that most of these loans would be forgiven once the immediate crisis has passed.
But there’s a curious carve-out in the measure: Any non-profit health care provider that receives Medicaid reimbursements is explicitly prohibited from accessing these loans. Weird, huh? Don’t non-profit healthcare providers have expenses not covered by Medicaid? Couldn’t these loans help those providers stay open and serve more patients?
Hmm, I wonder if the authors of the bill had any particular non-profit providers in mind? Ones that run small clinics, get Medicaid reimbursements, and that Senate Republicans wouldn’t mind seeing shut down?
Does it seem farfetched that in the middle of a terrifying global pandemic and resulting economic meltdown Republicans are still looking for ways to mess with reproductive rights? Do I sound paranoid?
I’m not. Texas and Ohio are trying to shut down clinics, arguing that abortion providers are “wasting” medical resources on “non-essential” procedures. Ohio Deputy Attorney General sent this letter to Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio last week, in which he ordered the clinic “to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions,” whatever that means. Abortions are essential if patients want them. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the order in his state is temporary—just until April 21st—as if he doesn’t know full well that delaying abortion care means a lot of patients won’t be able to access it at all.
It’s infuriating. And it’s so typical.