Texas officials were so insistent on defunding Planned Parenthood, they dismantled the state’s federally-funded Women’s Health Program — a network of doctors that provide care for low-income women — so they could relaunch a new program excluding the national organization. But targeting Planned Parenthood comes at a steep price for the women seeking preventative care in Texas. Even though the state initially claimed their new program would have 3,500 participating providers for women to choose from, that list has now shrunk by nearly 1,000, leaving women in the state with even fewer options for their doctors.
Texas relaunched its state-run Women’s Health Program at the beginning of January. Even though the state has always maintained its new program will be able to meet the same demand as the old one did, that hasn’t proven to be the case so far. The first list of providers the state provided was inaccurate and confusing. And now that the state has released a revised list, the Texas Tribune reports it’s significantly smaller than promised:
The Texas WHP replaced the federal Medicaid WHP on Jan. 1. The program’s Affiliate Ban Rule, which prohibits providers associated with abortion clinics from participation, forced the exclusion of 50 Planned Parenthood clinics that participated in the former Medicaid program. Without Planned Parenthood, women’s health advocates have argued that the state will not be able to adequately serve low-income women enrolled in the program.
The HHSC had previously stated that the Texas WHP had 3,500 participating providers, roughly 1,000 more than the number of providers that participated in the former Medicaid WHP. That list has shrunk to 2,448 doctors and clinics, as 965 providers said they would not accept WHP patients, despite being certified for the program. The contact information for 700 other providers has also been updated on the state’s website.
From the beginning of Texas’ crusade against Planned Parenthood, there have been questions about the state’s ability to effectively relaunch its health program without federal funding. Last year, Gov. Rick Perry (R) convened a smoke-and-mirrors press conference to announce that the new Women’s Health Program was ready to go — even though it wasn’t.
Up to 50,000 women are being forced to search for new doctors this year now that they can no longer get their care at Planned Parenthood. To keep up with the increased demand from new patients, other providers in the Women’s Health Program may be forced to take up to five times the number of their usual Medicaid patients.