The Texas Women's Health Program (WHP) is in serious jeopardy and likely to end after March 14. The Legislature has indicated it would prefer to end the five-year-old program rather than allow Planned Parenthood to be part of it, because the organization offers abortions at some of its Texas locations — though none that receive taxpayer dollars. Planned Parenthood argues it legally separates its services, and that family planning and disease screenings make up the vast majority of its work; that's an argument their anti-abortion critics don't buy.
Out of nearly 130,000 WHP clients statewide, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission reports that nearly 44 percent receive services at a Planned Parenthood clinic, making the organization the top beneficiary of the program. But if the WHP is dissolved, the other 56 percent of clients who receive care from other providers — such as federally qualified health centers, community clinics and private doctors — will also be affected. The timing couldn't be worse, following a legislative session in which Republican lawmakers cut state and federal family planning funding by two-thirds. It remains to be seen where these women would go, or whether they would continue seeking services.
Use the maps below to see the distribution of certified providers for the WHP. The first map compares the locations of Planned Parenthood clinics to the locations of all other certified providers. You can also switch maps to view all of the providers color-coded by type. Type in an address to zoom in and see how many certified providers are near you.
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In 2005, the Texas Legislature directed the Health and Human Services Commission to administer the Medicaid Women's Health Program, a five-year project that would provide family planning services to low-income women between the ages of 18 and 44. The program didn't get off the ground until 2007. The intent was to reduce the number of Medicaid births, as well as decrease the rate of infant deaths and low-weight and premature newborns.
Using the latest data available, HHSC released a report in 2011 that shows the Women's Health Program saved approximately $75.2 million per year due to a reduction in anticipated births. That figure included $22.8 million in direct savings to the state. The agency based those figures on estimates that showed without the program, there would have been 10,706 births in 2009, at a cost of $11,192 per Medicaid birth. Considering there were 3,985 births among the program's recipients, WHP averted an estimate 6,721 births.
The program covers one family planning exam each year, which includes screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and high blood pressure. The program also covers birth control (with the exception of emergency contraception). WHP only pays for these women to get screened for disease; medical treatment must be obtained elsewhere.