Texas Officials Say Women's Health Program Can Meet Demand Without Planned Parenthood

January 8, 2013 — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Monday announced that a recent survey shows that the state's Women's Health Program has enough providers to absorb Planned Parenthood's caseload, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Tomlinson, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/7).

Texas on Jan. 1 launched its own Women's Health Program after the federal government ended funding for a similar program because the state started enforcing a law barring participation by Planned Parenthood and other organizations affiliated with abortion providers.

The state program will provide about 110,000 low-income women ages 18 to 44 with no-cost well-woman exams, basic health care and certain family planning services (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/3). In 2012, WHP provided care for the same number of women, including 48,000 who received services through Planned Parenthood (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/7).

Key Findings

The commission sent surveys to 1,948 providers who have been approved to participate in the state WHP and are within 30 miles of a Planned Parenthood clinic, but only 44% responded to the poll. The commission used billing records from fiscal year 2012 to estimate patient capacity for facilities that did not respond (Cardona, "Trail Blazers Blog," Dallas Morning News, 1/7).

The poll found that providers currently enrolled in the program have the capacity to treat 147,513 women, according to a statement (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/7). However, the findings also suggest that provider capacity varies by region. For example, providers in Huntsville only have the capacity to take 12 additional patients, but providers in Conroe -- 30 miles away -- could take 2,265 new patients.

San Angelo was the only area in the state found to lack enough providers, while results were unclear in Corsicana, Paris, Tyler and Waco. Further, a Dallas Morning News review of the data suggests that there might be too few providers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serve the 13,000 Planned Parenthood patients in that region ("Trail Blazers Blog," Dallas Morning News, 1/7).

Ken Lambrecht, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, rejected the commission's conclusion. "The simple fact is there is not the capacity for other providers to absorb the tens of thousands of our patients statewide who could be left in the cold if these ... rules are allowed to stand." A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11 in state court to determine whether Planned Parenthood clinics must be included in the program until a lawsuit brought by the organization is resolved (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/7).