Texas Politicians Take Aim at Women’s Access to Care at Planned Parenthood Again

Texas Politicians Take Aim at Women’s Access to Care at Planned Parenthood Again
Tens of thousands of women already going without care due to past attacks

Washington, DC – The state of Texas announced plans to end contracts for Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests and preventive care through Medicaid. Each year, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas care for thousands of patients through Medicaid. This comes hours after a federal court temporarily blocked a similar action taken by Louisiana officials. The courts and the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification (CMCS) have been clear that federal law prohibits states from interfering with Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to the qualified provider of their choice. To date, two federal Courts of Appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have agreed, blocking laws excluding abortion providers from Medicaid enacted in Indiana and Arizona, and the Supreme Court declined to review both of those rulings. CMCS clearly stated in an informational memo dated June 2011: “States are not, however, permitted to exclude providers from the program solely on the basis of the range of medical services they provide.”

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“Once again politicians in Austin are showing how little they care about Texan’s health care. They’re launching yet another attack on low-income Texans’ access to preventive health care by announcing they intend to cut Planned Parenthood affiliates’ Medicaid contract. Already tens of thousands of women have lost their access to health care after years of deep cuts to family planning programs that provide access to lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV tests and well woman exams. Now their using thoroughly discredited, bogus attacks against Planned Parenthood as a shameful excuse to target Texas women’s health yet again. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for access to health care and information for all Texans.”

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“What’s happening today in Texas should be a national scandal. It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care, including cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control. This smear campaign has been completely discredited because the claims are completely false. In every state where this fraudulent smear campaign has been invoked, Planned Parenthood has fought for its patients to continue getting the high-quality, compassionate health care we provide, and in every state we’ve won. We will fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we’ve got, and we will protect women’s access to the health care they need and deserve.”

Years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care. A series of recent studies detail the real-world impact of devastating budget cuts and funding schemes that blocked care at Planned Parenthood health centers:

  • One report showed that 55 percent of Texas women reported at least one barrier to accessing reproductive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings or family planning services. Nearly 40 percent of women reported two or more barriers. Read more HERE from Texas Policy Evaluation Project.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the state’s family planning program served 54 percent fewer patients as a result of the 2011 budget cuts and tiered funding scheme. The researchers went on to write: “The tiered funding system placed organizations that had the greatest amount of experience providing these methods at a disadvantage and instead favored those that did not offer these methods as widely to their clients.”
  • In January, the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a grim report revealing that 30,000 fewer women received health care through the Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP) in 2013 than in 2011, following the state’s takeover of the program in order to ban Planned Parenthood. The Dallas Morning News reported that “the areas with the highest drops in the number of women served by the WHP occurred in areas where Planned Parenthood clinics shuttered.”
  • The Brownsville Herald, October 29, 2011: “[Brownsville Community Health Center] executive director Paula Gómez said she is concerned more women will lose out on vital care now that the Southmost clinic is gone and state funding has been cut. ‘Planned Parenthood, in those cases, was the only form of healthcare for a majority of these ladies,’ she said. ‘We’ve always had a good working relationship with Planned Parenthood and I think we’ve always worked hand in hand trying to do as comprehensive care as we can given our financial situation and our staffing situations.”
  • Huffington Post, May 11, 2011: “Those familiar with the mechanics of the [Women’s Health Program], however, question the feasibility of other health centers picking up the 42,000 women who would no longer be treated by Planned Parenthood. ‘The coverage will continue, but that may not mean much if you look at the overall picture,’ said Jose E. Camacho, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers. ‘Health centers’ funding is being leveled, so we can’t say in good conscience that [Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)] have the capacity to take these women in.’ FQHCs are serving one million people, 230,000 of childbearing age. The future of health care for close to a quarter million clients is also hazy, Camacho says, considering the House’s recent cuts to Title XX, V, and X programs. To add 40,000-plus former Planned Parenthood patients would be a 20 percent increase and ‘just can’t be done over a night or two without funding.’”
  • Austin Chronicle, April 22, 2011: “Put simply, says Randall Ellis, senior director of government relations for the well-respected Houston FQHC Legacy Community Health Services, it takes the entire spectrum of providers, including Planned Parenthood, to meet the needs of the growing population of low-income people without access to reproductive and other basic health care services. ‘We work in conjunction with Planned Parenthood for family-planning and HIV services. We do referrals back and forth, so that people can receive services in the setting that they’re most comfortable in,’ he said. ‘These family-planning providers, providers that specialize in family-planning services, provide these services in a much more cost-effective manner than do the other [providers] without the know-how – much more [cost-effectively] than Legacy or the other FQHCs … that don’t have the background’ or expertise in providing reproductive health care.”
  • Read more about the state of Texas women’s health from the Guttmacher Institute.