Texas launches health program for low-income women

The state has launched a new subsidized health care program for low-income women that will include coverage of certain chronic disease treatment.

The Healthy Texas Women program provides pregnancy testing and counseling, family planning, breast and cervical cancer screenings, immunizations, and screenings and — for the first time — treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The program, which began July 1, is a consolidation of the Texas Women’s Health Program and the Expanded Primary Health Care for Women program after the Sunset Advisory Commission in 2014 determined that the state could better streamline services and serve more women through one program rather than two.

Many of the women in the previous programs will be automatically enrolled in the new one.

“We needed a more cohesive system. One that is easier to navigate. One that emphasizes family planning and one that reaches more women, especially in our rural and underserved areas,” state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said Monday.

Unlike the previous programs, the new program also covers low-income minors as young as 15 with parental consent, which means access to free birth control.

READ: Texas health program offers free birth control to more poor teens

Nelson touted the number of providers — 5,000 — that have already signed up and that the state’s women health care budget is now at an all-time high of $285 million.

The restoration of funds comes after the Legislature cut two-thirds of the state’s family planning budget and ended state funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Pinching off state funds to Planned Parenthood led to the federal government pulling money from the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program. The state replaced it with the Texas Women’s Health Program in 2013, and that is now being replaced three years later.

“It’s not that the new programs are good or bad. It’s just the constant change makes it very difficult for providers to continue providing services for women in that uncertain environment and constantly evolving environment,” said Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

GET THE DAY’S LATEST NEWS: Click here to sign up for our Afternoon Updates email

Advocacy groups said that although the state said 5,000 providers have signed on, the number isn’t an accurate reflection of how many Texas women will be served. Some providers could serve a range of patients, and many family planning clinics haven’t reopened since the 2011 budget cuts.

On Monday, Lesley French, associate commissioner of women’s health services in the Texas Health and Human Services Commission declined to say how many women the commission would like to enroll in the program. In 2015, about 260,000 women enrolled in the two programs that are now consolidating.

“One of our biggest issues is just really wanting to make sure that we have really strong provider participation in the program,” said Alice Bufkin, director of policy and advocacy at the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Smoking pot while owning guns kept Austin man in jail for eight months
Smoking pot while owning guns kept Austin man in jail for eight months

When prosecutors could not prove allegations that an Austin man planned to use his stockpile of guns for an attack on the city’s police in April, they pivoted to an obscure federal charge that kept the defendant behind bars because of two habits he has. Steven Boehle shoots guns. He also smokes pot. The combination of the two is prohibited, according...
PolitiFact: Promise to change immigrant tuition law goes broken
PolitiFact: Promise to change immigrant tuition law goes broken

Greg Abbott ran for Texas governor signaling he’d go along with disconnecting a political tripwire for Republicans that benefits college students from Texas living in the United States without legal permission. We decided to put Abbott’s statements about in-state tuition for such Texans to the PolitiFact Texas Abbott-O-Meter, which tracks...
Community news: Dougherty Arts Center closing for maintenance

TRAVIS COUNTY SOUTH AUSTIN Dougherty closing for maintenance The Dougherty Arts Center, at 1110 Barton Springs Road, will close for required routine maintenance from Monday to Friday. During this time, the business office will be closed, as well as the front of the building including the gallery, rehearsal rooms, artist resource center and theater...
Traffic report for Dec. 18, 2017

Interstate 35 (Travis County): The inside lane on the northbound access road will be closed between the Oltorf Street exit and Royal Hill Drive from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights; the Oltorf Street exit (#232) will also be closed. The outside lane on the southbound access road will be closed between Reinli Street and 53½ Street...
Past Season for Caring-nominated family donates to this year’s family
Past Season for Caring-nominated family donates to this year’s family

In 2014, Wendi and Todd Noble and their daughter Avery were one of three families nominated to the Statesman Season for Caring program by nonprofit organization Wonders & Worries. At the time Todd Noble had been diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma and life was emotionally and financially uncertain. The committee at the American-Statesman...
More Stories