Back in 2011, Texas Republicans kicked Planned Parenthood out of the Women's Health Program and claimed that the state would be able to absorb the impact of losing both federal funding and one of the program's largest providers.
Two years later, enrollment in the Women's Health Program is down 25%, according to a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Commission. This is where Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Jim Keffer come in: they held a fundraiser this past weekend to raise money for an awareness campaign to try and address this deficit.
More on the fundraiser and the GOP's WHP woes below the jump.As the Houston Chronicle reports, this fundraiser is focused on funding an awareness campaign to educate women about the programs and services available to them through the Texas WHP.
The Texas Women's Health Program provides vital preventative healthcare services for low-income women. When Planned Parenthood was removed from the list of providers, the state had to try to fill in the gaps. This has not been easy, as spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told the Chronicle,
We're serving about 25 percent fewer women than we were a year ago. We have enough providers to serve more women so we want to make sure women know about the program. Under the Medicaid program, Planned Parenthood not only served many of the clients, they also helped their patients enroll in the Women's Health Program.
In the debate over removing abortion “affiliates” from the WHP list of providers, many proponents insisted that a network of providers existed to cover the provision of services to clients who had been using Planned Parenthood. What they did not consider was the how well Planned Parenthood had integrated everything from enrollment to service provision into their relationship with their clients.
As Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check writes, removing Planned Parenthood “cut people off from a hugely successful, holistic system that was designed specifically to serve low-income folks' health care needs,” and now the state is trying to play catch up.
The awareness program, which will include a website that helps women understand the range of services available to them through the state, hopes to help get enrollment back on track. There was no discussion of how the GOP's voting history on issues of access to reproductive healthcare might have led to this problem, however, and that is where the real trouble starts.
As State Representative Jessica Farrar told the Chronicle:
They are trying to back-pedal. Republicans dismantled the program for a political vendetta. I am glad they are trying to rectify it, but we didn't have to be here.
Representative Farrar says it best. Without Republican meddling in provision of reproductive health care services, we would not have had this problem in the first place.