Last week, the Governor vowed to find roughly $30 million to $40 million in the strapped state budget to make up for the federal money that Texas will lose by refusing to follow federal rules that allow women to choose eligible providers to get Women’s Health Program services.
The federal government matched state investment in the Women’s Health Program 9-to-1 – so the state once had to cover just one-tenth of the cost of this efficient, effective, money-saving program. Now, Texas will have to come up with the full amount – simply because the state insists on discriminating against thousands of women and interfering in the decision of where to get healthcare servces.
The declaration raises a number of important questions, including:
- Where exactly will the money come from?
- Given that Planned Parenthood used to provide nearly half of these services, who will pick up their slack now that they’ve been excluded from the program?
- How will the state recruit doctors into the program?
- How will patients know where to go for services?
- Does the state even have the capacity to provide these services while excluding a principal provider of them?
The real effects of this decision will be spelled out in the answers to these and other questions over the coming months. And the resolution of this dispute will have a critical, real-life impact on Texas women who rely on this program.
The Women’s Health Program is a great program that saves taxpayers money and safeguards the health of Texas women; the state should be looking for ways to protect it, not endanger it. Putting it in jeopardy discriminates against women by threatening the healthcare they rely on.
The state officials who created this problem have an obligation to demonstrate how they will solve it. Those in control of the Capitol can’t just break the rules for political purposes and then complain when others call them on it – particularly when it threatens the health of women. This can’t be just some political fight folks use to drum up votes – it affects the health and lives of real people.