Texas progressives and health advocates are outraged by the news that Texas' Women's Health Program is coming to an end because Texas Republicans will no longer fund it. We received press releases from
- State Rep. Garnet Coleman
- Planned Parenthood Austin
- Center for Public Policy Priorities
- State Rep. Armando Walle
- State Rep. Jessica Farrar
- Texas Democratic Party
And here are some excerpts from them:
State Rep. Garnet Coleman:
I write out of great concern for the future of the Medicaid Women's Health Program (WHP) in Texas. The newly adopted rule defining “affiliate” and preventing providers affiliated with entities that offer safe and legal pregnancy termination from participating in the WHP, as you know, will essentially end the program in Texas.
Beth Cox – Planned Parenthood Austin:
Governor Perry's move to end the Medicaid Women's Health Program (WHP), through a rule change at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) that violates federal law, effectively strips 130,000 of Texas' most vulnerable women from their access to basic health care, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests, annual exams, and birth control.
Center for Public Policy Priorities:
Every one of us wants to live and work in healthy communities where we all have the opportunity to reach our potential. But our state's elected leaders are pursuing a tragic course that undermines these goals. Effective March 14, the state plans to implement a new rule designed to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in our state's Women's Health Program, but which in reality will destroy the program. The Women's Health Program provides essential well-woman services, including pap smears, birth control, and breast exams to low-income women without health insurance ages 18 to 44. By implementing this new rule, the state provokes an almost certain cut-off of 90 percent of the program's funds, which come from the federal government.
State Rep. Armando Walle:
Texas already leads the nation in the number of uninsured families. The adoption of this rule will lead to 130,000 poor Texas women losing access to preventative and lifesaving care including screenings for cervical and breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and birth control. This access to basic health services helps these women stay healthy and plan their pregnancies properly. Instead, taxpayers will be left footing the bill for the additional millions of dollars in Medicaid costs related to the loss of this program and the resulting rise in unintended pregnancies, untreated disease and emergency room visits.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar:
Texas is clearly in the wrong, and though the Governor, the Attorney General, Commissioner Suehs, and Comptroller Combs have spun this story, the truth is coming out. Last week, a north Texas voter contacted my office after contacting her own Representative, whom the voter felt showed a clear disregard for her health. The voter shared with me her situation, one that all too many Texas women find themselves in. “I am very aware of the Texas HHS cutting funding and am livid, as this was my only hope for cancer screenings,” she said. “This recession has completely wiped out my savings and I have been laid off two times in three years, thus I have no health insurance and limited access to health care.” Here is the truth: The Women's Health Program served more than 130,000 uninsured Texas women each year. WHP provided cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and contraception. Governor Perry, Attorney General Abbott, Commissioner Suehs, and Comptroller Combs want Texans to believe that by allowing Planned Parenthood clinics and other “affiliates of abortion providers” to administer the Women's Health Program, the program led to abortion. In fact, WHP and abortion had only one connection: The Women's Health Program provided services that are proven to decrease the number of abortions.
Texas Democratic Party:
This is what happens when you have men dictating women's health issues. This decision is absolutely indefensible and every Texas Republican should be ashamed. Republicans here in Texas and across the country continue their war on women. Today's despicable decision will endanger the lives of thousands of women in our state. It's clear that Republicans are completely incapable of going more than a day without doing something to endanger women's health. Texas Republicans never miss an opportunity to throw the most vulnerable Texans under the bus so that they can pick a fight with the federal government. Schools are closing, our air is the dirtiest in the country and over a hundred thousand women are about to lose access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams and contraception. It's time for Texas Republicans to stop playing costly political games and get serious about our shared problems.