Baked-goods protest planned at Houston’s office

Oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip?

The Shasta-Diablo chapter of Planned Parenthood will sell cookies Thursday on the doorstep of GOP Assemblyman Guy Houston’s office in Walnut Creek in a show of support for increased state payments to those who provide health services to the state’s poorest residents.

The state hasn’t increased the reimbursement rate to clinics and doctors that care for people who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid since 1994. Groups such as Planned Parenthood are lobbying state legislators for a hike in provider rates, saying medical costs have risen 300 percent since 1994.

Planned Parenthood clinicians offer a variety of family planning services to the poor, including cancer screenings, PAP smears and birth control.

Planned Parenthood is staging “Bake Sales for Family Planning” at the offices of various legislative leaders. It’s last confection-laden demonstration took place on the doorstep of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. (Hey, Democrats and Republicans eat cookies.)

“Our clinics are turning away more than 10,000 patients each month because we don’t have the staff to serve them and without an increase in these rates, we won’ be able to serve them – or thousands more,” said Planned Parenthood President Heather Saunders Estes in a press release. “That’s 10,000 Californians who won’t get birth control, or breast and cervical cancer screenings, who will have no access to testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases or HIV/AIDS. That’s not a reproductive health care crisis … that’s a public health care crisis.”’

If you’re hankering for a chocolate chip cookie frosted with a political message, head to 1666 N. Main Street in Walnut Creek between noon and 1 p.m.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen