Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast
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Planned Parenthood Statement on HHSC Adopting Rule that will End
Texas’ Medicaid Women’s Health Program
(WHP)  State Violates Federal Law, Jeopardizes Program and Health Care for Texas Women
 

(Houston) – Last summer, on the heels of the State Legislature’s devastating cuts to the women’s health programs, the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced that HHSC was considering implementing a new regulation to exclude qualified providers from participating in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program (WHP).  Over the course of several months in 2011, the federal government indicated that such a rule is a violation of federal law because it restricts the rights of patients. 

Rather than work toward a solution that would allow for the continuation for this vital women’s health program, HHSC today adopted the illegal rule which is effective March 14.  In short, Texas is choosing a path that it knows will end the program altogether.

“No one’s politics should interfere with a woman’s access to health care.  It is shameful that Governor Perry and Commissioner Suehs continue to politicize lifesaving breast cancer screenings and birth control access for low-income women.

“The State’s actions have put the entire Medicaid Women’s Health Program (WHP) and the health care of 130,000 of our state’s most vulnerable women, many of them single mothers, in serious jeopardy. The federal government has already indicated that if Texas violated Medicaid law, the future of the entire program would be at risk.

“Last year, nearly 17,000 women enrolled in WHP received their annual exams, birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings from trusted providers at PPGC health centers in Houston and Southeast Texas.  Today the State of Texas has taken away their health care and their trusted provider.

“Texas women and Texas taxpayers need this program. The Medicaid Women’s Health Program saves lives, prevents unintended pregnancies and saves taxpayer dollars. For many women, Medicaid WHP is their only source of health care. Texas already leads the nation in the number of uninsured families.  Now Perry’s most recent move to adopt this rule means that 130,000 additional Texas women stand to lose access to basic, lifesaving care that helps them stay healthy and plan their pregnancies, and taxpayers will be left footing the bill for millions of dollars in ballooning Medicaid costs related to the loss of this program. 

“This move is not supported by the medical community, as Bruce Malone, President of the Texas Medical Association, has publicly called this a “political” move, noting there is not “another safety net for these women for medical care.”  [Texas Tribune, January 2012]

“Playing politics with the lives and health of Texas women is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood is committed to the health of Texas women and is evaluating all possible actions to protect this essential program and health care access for the 130,000 women who rely on it.”

BACKGROUND:

Medicaid WHP is an extension of the federal Medicaid program and provides family planning services to women who are not eligible for Medicaid, but who would be if they became pregnant. Covered services include lifesaving screenings for breast and cervical cancer, annual exams, testing for STDs, screenings for diabetes and hypertension, and birth control.

Over 130,000 low-income Texas women rely on Medicaid WHP to help plan their pregnancies and stay healthy.  Planned Parenthood health centers provide care to 44 percent of all Medicaid WHP clients. 

Texas’ cuts to family planning programs last year are already expected to leave 180,000 women without access to preventive care each year, or 360,000 over the life of the state budget.  As a result of those cuts, the state is preparing for unintended pregnancies to rise and for Medicaid costs to balloon by $231 million.  If state leaders allow Medicaid WHP to end, taxpayers would be faced with further exploding Medicaid costs for unintended pregnancies totaling over $3 billion. 

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured women in the U.S. Each year more than half of all births in Texas are covered by Texas taxpayers through Medicaid.   In 2009, Medicaid coverage for prenatal care, labor and delivery cost the state $2.7 billion. 

Ramshaw, Emily. Suehs Signs Rule Banning Abortion Affiliates. Texas Tribune, February 23, 2012. http://www.texastribune.org/texas-health-resources/abortion-texas/suehs-signs-rule-banning-abortion-affiliates/
  Ramshaw, Emily. Suehs Signs Rule Banning Abortion Affiliates. Texas Tribune, February 23, 2012. http://www.texastribune.org/texas-health-resources/abortion-texas/suehs-signs-rule-banning-abortion-affiliates/
  Tan, Thanh. Day 15: Texas Family Planning Funding Slashed. Texas Tribune, August 15, 2011. http://www.texastribune.org/texas-legislature/82nd-legislative-session/day-15/
  White, Audrey http://www.statesman.com/news/local/local-clinic-finding-ways-to-continue-services-amid-2152757.html?printArticle=y
  Legislative Budget Board Staff. Texas State Government Effectiveness and Efficiency: Selected Issues and Recommendations. Legislative Budget Board, January 2011. http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Performance%20Reporting/TX_Govt_Effective_Efficiency_Report_82nd.pdf
  Kaiser Family Foundation. State Health Facts: “Health Insurance Coverage of Nonelderly Women 0-64, states (2009-2010), U.S. (2010)”. http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=132&cat=3&sub=178&yr=252&typ=2
  Kaiser Family Foundation, State Health Facts, “Number of Births Financed by Medicaid, 2007.” http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?yr=18&typ=2&ind=223&cat=4&sub=57. (The 2007 data is the most recent available for Texas.)
  Legislative Budget Board Staff. Texas State Government Effectiveness and Efficiency: Selected Issues and Recommendations. Legislative Budget Board, January 2011. http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Performance%20Reporting/TX_Govt_Effective_Efficiency_Report_82nd.pdf