Texas Delays Launch of New Women's Health Program, Continues Payments to Planned Parenthood
November 1, 2012 — Planned Parenthood will continue to participate in Texas' Women's Health Program for the time being, despite the state's promise to exclude affiliates of abortion providers beginning on Nov. 1, state officials announced on Wednesday, the AP/Washington Post reports (AP/Washington Post, 10/31).
In explaining the decision, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and state Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek cited ongoing legal challenges to the state's plan, as well as their desire to retain federal funding for WHP (Fikak, San Antonio Express-News, 11/1). Currently, the federal government covers 90% of the program's annual cost of about $40 million, but it is phasing out support because the Texas law violates federal rules. Planned Parenthood provides preventive care to about half of the 130,000 low-income women enrolled in WHP (AP/Washington Post, 10/31).
Texas officials said federal officials have suggested that funding will not continue past Dec. 31. Perry added that court action within the next few weeks should help clarify the matter. The state has pledged to end the program entirely if a court orders it to include Planned Parenthood (San Antonio Express-News, 11/1).
Perry emphasized on Wednesday that the state still plans to move forward with the state-funded program that excludes affiliates of abortion providers (Aaronson, Texas Tribune, 10/31).
Perry expressed confidence that the new Texas program would be able to handle the influx of patients from Planned Parenthood, noting that the program has added 500 health care providers for a total of 3,000 (San Antonio Express-News, 11/1).
Planned Parenthood Responds
Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said in a press release, "Today's announcement is an important victory for every woman who relies on the Women's Health Program for basic, preventive health care," adding, "Our doors remain open today and always to every Texas woman in need of affordable, high quality health care" (Texas Tribune, 10/31).
Meanwhile, Mara Posada of the Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas said the state's delay suggests "they are not ready to start this program," adding, "There are simply not enough providers with the capacity to see the same number of patients as Planned Parenthood" (San Antonio Express-News, 11/1).