Texas Appropriators Reconsider Certain Funding Restrictions on Women's Health Providers

March 12, 2015 — A Texas House budget panel on Tuesday approved a measure that would eliminate a provision in a state budget proposal that would create a tiered system for allocating money to clinics for a women's cancer screening program, the Texas Tribune reports. The measure now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Under the tiered system, public entities, such as state-funded community clinics, would get priority for the money, followed by private clinics. Meanwhile, private specialty clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, could receive funding for the screening program only if money was left from the first two tiers.

State Sen. Jane Nelson (R), her chamber's chief budget writer, said the system aims to prevent clinics affiliated with abortion providers from receiving funding first. Texas already bars public funding to clinics that provide abortions.

Proposed Changes

Under the measure, ending the tiered system would be contingent on the federal government objecting to it and cutting funding for the program. The program receives about $8.8 million annually -- about 75% of its cost -- from the federal government, while the state covers the remainder. The state's Legislative Budget Board expects the federal government would oppose the system.

If the tiered system were enacted, about one-fifth of the cancer clinics in the screening program would fall into the second or third tiers. Nearly 34,000 Texas women were screened through the program in 2014.

Texas Rep. Sarah Davis (R), who proposed removing the provision, said the tiered system would hurt dozens of clinics, not just Planned Parenthoods, and endanger women's lives (Walters, Texas Tribune, 3/10).