April 17, 2012 — Texas will begin funding its Medicaid Women's Health Program on its own on Nov. 1 so that participants maintain access to health services after the federal government ends funding for the program, the state's Medicaid director said, KERA reports. The federal government will no longer contribute funding to the program because of a Texas law that bars participation by Planned Parenthood and other organizations affiliated with abortion providers. The program provides about 130,000 low-income women with family planning and other health services.
Billy Millwee, the state's Medicaid director, said Texas will continue with the current program through the end of October before launching the state-funded program. According to Millwee, about 3% of providers will become ineligible when the state starts enforcing the law on May 1. He said some women "may have to find a new provider. We'll help them do that. But, the services will continue."
Millwee said the state is still determining how it will fund the program. The current annual cost is about $40 million. "We're working as hard as we can to identify where those funds will come from without affecting any [or] having a negative impact on any other programs," Millwee said (Austin, KERA, 4/16).
The law is the subject of two court challenges. Last month, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) filed a lawsuit against HHS over its decision to stop funding for the program. On April 11, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the state law (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/12).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.