GEORGETOWN – Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner (HHSC) Kyle Janek, M.D. today announced that the state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP) is ready to begin providing preventative health screenings and services to thousands of low-income Texas women, while fully complying with Texas state law.
They were joined by Texas lawmakers at Lone Star Circle of Care at Lake Aire Medical Center, a qualified provider participating in the Texas WHP.
“Earlier this year, the Obama Administration, which is one of Planned Parenthood’s biggest supporters, said they would pull funding from the Women’s Health Program and in response, I promised the women of Texas that they would continue to have access to this important health care, whether funded by the federal government or the state,” said Gov. Perry.
“HHSC has been working to line up providers across the state for the new Texas WHP, a program that not only meets the needs of Texas women, it also respects life and honors the will of Texas voters, ensuring no taxpayer money goes to abortion providers and their affiliates.”
As the federally funded program continues to wind down, the state stands ready to implement the state-funded program should the federal government pull the funding or the courts, in a final judgment, require HHSC to violate Texas law. The Obama Administration has indicated they will not fund this program past Dec. 31, 2012.
“We remain committed to enforcing state law, maintaining the Medicaid funding that is rightfully ours, and making sure women have access to family planning services,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, M.D.
Texas law prohibits tax dollars from funding abortion providers and their affiliates in the Women’s Health Program. To ensure thousands of Texas women continue to receive the preventive health services provided by the WHP, Gov. Perry directed HHSC to continue the program using state funds, while fully complying with state law.
Gov. Perry made clear Texas law will not allow a program that includes abortion providers or their affiliates like Planned Parenthood to be providers in the program, stating that any lawsuit filed to challenge the Texas WHP will kill the program, and would be responsible for denying these important health services to the low-income women of Texas.
Such a lawsuit would only confirm that rather than be excluded from the program, they would rather see no woman benefit from it, and additionally that their own business interests and pro-abortion agenda are more important than the women they claim to care for.
First implemented in 2007, the Women’s Health Program is a Medicaid waiver program that provides preventative health care to more than 100,000 low-income Texas women, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, diabetes and hypertension, among other services.
Under federal law, state leaders are left to administer the program and set criteria for who is considered a qualified provider. C
onsistent with state and federal law, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has developed the program to ensure continued access to care by qualified providers across Texas.
Mary Tuma reported that conservative state legislators moved to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged to “end federal funding” for the organization.
A rule signed earlier this year by then-state Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs — and promoted by conservative Republican legislators and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — barred Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the program because they are affiliated with an abortion provider.
The state did this despite the fact that federal and state money was already prohibited from being used for abortion.
Arguing that Texas’ actions violated federal law, the federal government announced it would not renew its 90-percent share of the WHP, leaving obstinate Texas leaders to offset the sizable financial loss with their own source of funding.
As a result, Gonzalez and more than 50,000 low-income, uninsured women are slated to be kicked out of Planned Parenthood, the most widely used provider in the program, by Nov. 1.
Now, they must obtain their basic reproductive health care, like pap smears, preventative breast and cervical cancer screenings, diabetes and hypertension exams, birth control, and STD tests, elsewhere.
Tina Landis, Liberation News.org, reported: “Nov. 1, Texas will launch a new state-funded Women’s Health Program banning any affiliates associated with abortion providers. In the ongoing anti-abortion hysteria, the state is revamping the program to ban Planned Parenthood as a health care provider solely because some of their clinics, which are not even part of the WHP, provide abortion services, and despite the fact that pregnant women do not even qualify for the WHP.
Gov. Rick Perry moved to take state control over the federal Medicaid-waiver program stating that because PP was a provider, the program was part of federal government’s “pro-abortion agenda.”
Texas already faces a dismal health care record with some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in the United States and a large number—34 percent statewide and 66 percent in rural areas—of uninsured women of childbearing age as well as the third-lowest ranking in the country for primary care physicians per 100,000 residents.
For more information about the WHP, please visit www.texaswomenshealth.org.
To view the governor’s remarks, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/news/speech/17817/