April 24, 2015 — Women's health advocates warn that a Texas state budget proposal intended to prioritize funding for a women's cancer screening program for groups that do not provide abortion services could reduce women's access to health care, CQ News reports.
The state House and Senate budgets are now being negotiated through budget reconciliation (Evans, CQ News, 4/22).
The state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program uses state and federal funds to provide no-cost cancer screenings and diagnostic tests to low-income women ages 21 to 64 who do not have health insurance or are underinsured. Planned Parenthood provided such services to about 3,300 of the almost 33,600 women who participated in the program last year (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/28).
Budget Proposal Details
The Texas Senate earlier this month passed a state budget proposal that would reduce or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood to participate in the BCCS program by creating a tiered system for allocating money (CQ News, 4/22). The state House also has passed a budget proposal that would create such a system (McCrimmon, Texas Tribune, 4/22).
Under the tiered system, public entities, such as state-funded community clinics, would get priority for the money, followed by private clinics. Meanwhile, private clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, could receive funding for the screening program only if money was left from the first two tiers (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/12).
Ultimately, the plan could reduce or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood to participate in the program (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/28). Further, if enacted, the tiered system would move about one-fifth of the cancer clinics in the screening program to the second or third tiers (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/12).
According to CQ News, the system would be dropped if the Department of State Health Services concludes that establishing the tiers would make the state lose federal funding for BCCS.
Women's health advocates have said similar systems in other states have decreased access to non-abortion health services.
According to a Guttmacher Institute report released this month, nine other states have implemented similar restrictions to those being considered in Texas, including Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
In addition, a report released last month by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission found that almost 30,000 fewer women in 2013 received care through the Women's Health Program in Texas in 2013 compared with 2011. Texas created the state-run Women's Health Program to avoid funding abortion providers under the Medicaid Women's Health Program (CQ News, 4/22).