By Gustavo Arellano
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By Charles Lam
Simply put, Moorlach doesn’t think Measure H money should go to Planned Parenthood for health and sex education—even if county employees and health-care organizations rely on such education. “We’re in a recession; the money goes to community clinics for family and specialty care for families. Is education for STDs and sex education a real high priority? Is that really where the money should be going?” He said no, and the board agreed with him.
He says this doesn’t mean he will block Planned Parenthood from receiving funds in the future if they meet the new criteria, which require clinics that perform abortions and are seeking Measure H funds to spend the money in a location where abortions are not performed and to financially separate the funds from money used for abortion services.
Being seen as tough on Planned Parenthood certainly plays well with Moorlach’s constituents. At a luncheon two weeks ago at the Pacific Club—an opulent, wood-paneled private establishment in Newport Beach—for the Family Action PAC, guest speaker Moorlach brought up Planned Parenthood. “It’s been like dealing with the demon from the pit,” Moorlach told the group of about 22, who politely chuckled and sent a soft wave of applause through the room when Moorlach told the story of how the HCA would now be more transparent in disclosing clinics that receive public funding, thanks to the work of the board and an unnamed “constituent” who had pestered him to look into the issue. Bucher, seated next to Moorlach, smiled wide.
When asked later about the demon comment, Moorlach laughs. “There are some organizational names that just invoke some kind of reaction,” he says. The demon comment was a reference to some of the e-mails he received from supporters of Planned Parenthood during the March debates—some of which were very polite, some of which “were just attacks,” he says. “How is that supposed to help me change my mind?” He notes that his chief of staff met with a Planned Parenthood board member, and he’s not averse to having the county fund them in the future.
While all the other clinics had their new proposals approved within the past month, Planned Parenthood’s proposal has not been. Their most recent effort to secure funding for a much-needed comprehensive breast-cancer clinic for women younger than 40, who don’t qualify for any publicly subsidized treatments, has been rejected several times by HCA. “We were fully confident that our proposal met all their new rules and restrictions,” says CEO Jon Dunn. The agency rejected the first application in late April, not because it violated any of the new policy rules, but because it included the hiring of a nurse case manager, which the agency said did not qualify as direct medical-care personnel.
Planned Parenthood has since revised the proposal several times, eliminating the nurse case manager. Gates says they are still openly negotiating the proposal and that the grant is still set aside for Planned Parenthood, pending the HCA’s approval. If the agency signs off on the proposal, it won’t have to go before the supervisors again, Gates says.
Even so, Dunn remains wary. “One of the things that’s been very troubling about this whole process, and I think it leaves little doubt that there’s a larger agenda here,” he says, “is that every time we attempt to comply with a new rule, there’s another new rule.”