Feb 18, 2007

Rick Perry Eschews Communication

Can you believe that Gov. Rick Perry is still sticking to his guns on his surprise executive order requiring all 11-12 year old girls to be vaccinated against the HPV virus? Rick Perry is now claiming that it is a personal issue, with his father, his mother, and his sister all currently in remission from cancer. Some still think he was bought off by Merck, but some say that Rick Perry is looking for his own personal legacy – maybe he wants to be known as the governor who went to war against cancer.

Was this really the best way to kick off a war against cancer? Or would a little prior communication have helped Perry’s efforts a bit?

Apparently, some key Republican legislators found out about Perry’s mandate from none other than reporters from ABC and CNN seeking comments. (Maybe Perry took his example from Tim Dick, who sued Frank Vance, but Frank didn’t know about it until the local reporter contacted him for comments.)

Making an executive decision like this was not necessary; there was no real emergency. In fact, there is no perceived emergency. This is about Rick Perry getting what Rick Perry wants, without having to go through the traditional lengthy process of communication. There are probably many legislators who would have either backed Perry or at least offered suitable alternatives (as they are being forced to do now), if Perry had just followed protocol. Here a few questions that should have been discussed long before any decisions were made:

Is this the most effective use of Texas health care dollars? How much will it really cost? What does science say about it? What about potential side-effects? Should vaccination be mandatory for students or just encouraged? Does the order trample on parental rights? At what age should the vaccine be administered? What should be done to defray the high cost? Have enough clinical trials and research been done to justify mandating the vaccine at this time? Should this order go into effect now? Is the fact that only one company (Merck) currently makes a Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine of concern? A competing pharmaceutical company is developing its own vaccine. Should the state wait to see if it gets FDA approval?

It is not known if this vaccine is safe for use in pregnancy. Some 11-12 year old girls are pregnant already. How are they going to determine whether or not each girl is pregnant before they give each of the three shots, or is the State willing to take a risk and just take each girl at her word?

“If Governor Perry believes we should vaccinate these young girls against a disease that occurs as a result of sexual activity then he should also assume that there exists the possibility that some of those same girls might also be pregnant when they receive this mandated vaccine,” Sen. Hegar said.

Although the three-shot series costs $360, most private physicians are charging between $500 and $900. Who is going to pay for this? Some insurance companies will cover it, but not all, or you may have to pay a high deductible. Who pays for it in the first place – the physicians? With a 30-45 day turn around time for insurance payments, how much can a physician afford to keep in stock?

Or maybe you don’t have insurance. While the federal government will chip in $43 million for the uninsured, Rick Perry is seeking another $29 million in state aid to pay for this as well. Such a deal. First, he mandates the vaccine and then he pays for it. We should be so grateful.

Meanwhile, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins must be reaffirmed in the Senate Nominations Committee, but some of the senators are going to demand that Hawkins be able to answer all these lingering questions, and probably more, before they confirm him. Not very good timing on Rick Perry’s part.

As a first step to combat Perry's order, the House Public Health Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill Monday (February 19) to pre-empt Perry’s order. The hearing is open to the public.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown has also filed a brief to the Attorney General arguing that the governor has no right to issue executive orders like this.

And then there is Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) who is pushing another bill to require that all 11-12 year old girls receive the vaccine by this August, rather than next year as Perry mandates.

Politics in Texas hasn't been this exciting since all the democrats played hookey a couple years back!


Lindon said...

This just cannot stand. Is he nuts? I cannot imagine independent minded Texans will stand for being forced by executive order.

What is the word on the streets? In the local media? Is this a big topic down there?

Jen said...

No, this is not a BIG topic - it is THE topic down here!

Nearly every legislator is opposed to what Rick Perry did. Both conservatives and liberals think he is wrong. I just don't understand his big rush. He is forcing an issue to the forefront that would have come along in its own due time.

jean said...


I share your sentiments on this recent executive order from Perry. What arrogance. Just today I received the following, regarding another freedom-trampling bill about to be introduced by legislators with friends in the medical community in our fine state:

"Every Texas legislative session since 1999, the Texas dietitians have introduced a bill to license the practice of nutritional counseling to only them and medical doctors. We now know that this will occur in 2007 as well. Once again, the Texas dietitians are trying to monopolize and censor the information consumers receive about nutrition and dietary supplements.

On Feb. 20th, they will hold a "legislative day," and busloads of dietitians will descend on Austin and lobby the legislature to pass their bill.

If passed, the bill will legally prohibit nutritionists, naturopaths, homeopaths, sports trainers, natural products retailers/distributors and any other unlicensed Texas practitioners from providing nutritional information to consumers. Experience in other states shows that, if their bill is passed, the dietitians will ruthlessly enforce it. In Florida, a naturopath/health food store owner was handcuffed and jailed for "practicing nutritional counseling without a license." In Ohio, a Ph.D. nutritionist and a health food store owner were each subjected to intrusive, lengthy, hostile investigations and forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. At the very least, we can expect the Texas dietitians' bill to contain stiff fines (up to $1,000 per day) for "practicing nutritional counseling without a license.""

All of this legislative nonsense points only in one direction...$$$$$. Apparently Merck is in need of a mandate to move it's vaccine, and the medical community is now afraid that if I become too independent in my preventive healthcare, I won't be needing them as much.

Aggghhh! Where is everyone's common sense these days?

Have a pleasant day,


P.S. Garlic is great at halting a cold, peppermint soothes an upset stomach and plain ole lemon water is the quickest way to alkalize the body. Whew! That may be illegal for me to say next week. HA!