The Austin Chronicle reports today on the striking decline of women's health care access in Texas. A state-based effort to discourage women from seeking services at Planned Parenthood hasn't worked out at all (thanks to my colleague Kent Jones for the heads-up).
As expected, the state-funded Texas Women's Health Program -- designed to preclude women from obtaining services from Planned Parenthood -- has at midyear served significantly fewer women than were served by the previous program, which was funded by the federal government and included Planned Parenthood.As of June 1, the Health and Human Services Commission had processed 79,663 claims for family planning and reproductive health services provided under the TWHP -- just 77% of the number processed during the first five months of 2012 (and just 71% of the total claims posted for the same time period in 2012), when the program was known as the Women's Health Program.
I charted these figures in the above image, and the trend is clearly not moving in an encouraging direction.
The fact is, Texas' Women's Health Program was rather effective, partnering with Planned Parenthood and subsidized heavily by federal dollars. Then Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Republican state lawmakers intervened, not because the program was faulty, but because their ideological goals said the program needed to change.
The result is fewer women receiving family planning and reproductive health services.
Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told the Austin Chronicle, "To score political points, Perry dismantled this program and dictated where women could receive their exams and birth control. Texas women lost access to cancer screenings and annual exams, and the taxpayers lost federal funding and savings from this program -- that is what happens when politics drives public health."