Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Coalition Urges Legislature to Invest in Women’s Preventive Care to Save Lives and Money

A new coalition has taken up the banner for women’s health care in Texas, urging lawmakers to address the critical and growing need for women’s preventive services by restoring funding to women’s health care programs, ensuring ample provider capacity, and rebuilding Texas’ women’s health care safety net.

The Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition (TWHC) — a statewide partnership of 32 health care, public policy, and faith-based organizations — is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Texas women, babies, and families by ensuring all Texas women have access to basic wellness and preventive services. The Texas Medical Association (TMA) is a steering committee member of the TWHC.

Following the 2011 Texas Legislature, the women’s health care safety net has been hit hard by severe funding cuts and a loss of providers to its essential programs. Lawmakers cut the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Family Planning program by 66 percent, blocking access to preventive care, including well-woman examinations, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and contraception for 147,000 low-income women. The cuts have forced 53 clinic closures across Texas so far, and reduced hours at 38 more clinics.

At a press conference today, San Antonio family physician and TMA member Janet Realini, MD, MPH, TWHC steering committee chair, urged legislators to reverse the DSHS cuts to family planning. “The safety net for women’s health care is in tatters,” she said.

From left to right: Anavi Cantu, Dr. Realini, and
Representatives Howard and Davis
Dr. Realini was joined by Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and Sarah Davis (R-Houston), as well as Anavi and Benny Cantu, a Robstown couple affected by the severe cuts in family planning.

An estimated 1 million women ages 20-44 in Texas need preventive care and family planning services. One in three Texas women of childbearing age has no health insurance—more than any other state. Loss of access to preventive and preconception care means too many pregnancies without prenatal care and too many babies born preterm. Lack of access to contraception means more unplanned pregnancies, higher risks of child abuse and neglect, and higher Medicaid costs.

“By investing in women’s preventive health care, Texas can actually reduce the state’s Medicaid costs while also promoting healthier families and communities,” said Dr. Realini. “In an era when lawmakers are looking to constrain Medicaid costs, improving preventive health care for women is one of the single best strategies the state has.”

The Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition is a coalition of organizations promoting access to preventive health care for all Texas women. TWHC is working toward the vision of a state where every woman has access to the preventive and preconception care that will help her stay healthy and prepare for healthy, planned pregnancies. For more information about
TWHC, a list of coalition members, our mission, and our legislative priorities, visit
www.TexasWHC.org.

1 comment :

  1. Family planning services needs to dissociate itself from the percetion (or reality, as the case may be) of being an abortion clinic. Funding will never be a problem again if they do so.

    ReplyDelete

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