Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Texas Women’s Health Program: Fewer Women Served

By Janet Realini, MD
San Antonio Physician
President, Healthy Futures Alliance

The number of women served by the state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program dropped precipitously between fiscal years (FYs) 2011 and 2013, according to a recently released report from the state Health and Human Services Commission. The report shows that nearly 26 percent fewer women received services. This means about 30,000 fewer women received services such as cancer screenings, preventive care, and contraception through the program in FY 2013 than did in FY 2011.

Decreases in the number of women served were particularly significant in West Texas (64 percent), the High Plains (53 percent), and Central Texas (42 percent). The number of payment claims for contraceptives dropped by more than half, from 191,159 in FY 2011 to 88,281 in FY 2013.

In 2011, the state Family Planning Program budget was cut severely. Then in 2013, the Texas Women’s Health Program became fully state-funded, with Texas losing federal matching money that contributed $9 dollars for $1 the state spent. Even with this increased state contribution and fewer women served, however, Texas still saved money, according to the report. By preventing an estimated 8,359 unplanned births in FY 2014, the 2013 program saved $93.6 million in Medicaid costs, with a net state savings of $6.42 million.

The service reductions documented in this report are of great concern to both the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition and Healthy Futures Alliance. We appreciate the state’s 2013 investment in women’s health care, but there is still much to do to rebuild our injured women’s-health safety net and restore service to low-income women. By ensuring access to quality preventive care and effective contraception, we can build a stronger, healthier Texas.

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