New report reaffirms that the Healthy Texas Women program is still failing Texans

Blake RocapBy Blake Rocap, interim executive director and legislative counsel

Motivated by Texas’ alarmingly high maternal mortality rate, North Texas-based East Dallas Persistent Women activists investigated the providers listed on a state website as participating in the Healthy Texas Women program. Their findings, released in a report last week, affirm what our student-led research at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and other organizations have consistently uncovered about Texas’ state-funded family planning programs—thousands of phone numbers are duplicates and therefore give an inaccurate picture of provider capacity; a wide range of health care providers listed as participating in the family planning program don’t actually provide reproductive health services, while others confirm that they don’t participate in the program at all.

This latest report is further evidence that the HTW program is inaccessible to the Texans who need it most because anti-abortion legislators, in decimating the program year after year, continue to prioritize politics over women’s lives.

Gov. Greg Abbott and his yes men at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) have failed in their attempt to recreate a once successful program that received a $9 to $1 match of federal dollars before funding was slashed and effective community based providers were kicked out in 2011. HHSC now touts this third iteration of the program as a success but inflates the number of providers and can’t provide an accurate list of participating doctors. The agency also points to a client enrollment number inflated by auto-enrollment as a sign of success without any data that successful public health programs and researchers use to evaluate programs such as: unduplicated patient numbers, services provided, and a population level analysis of other costs avoided by providing preventative healthcare. Further, the agency has violated its own policy by awarding a significant amount of Healthy Texas Women funding to an ideological anti-abortion organization, the Heidi Group, with no experience providing medical care in an ongoing attempt to legitimize anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers over actual medical providers.

Despite a consistent outcry about the litany of problems with Healthy Texas Women, politics and ineptitude have allowed the dysfunction to continue while thousands of Texans go without health care. Let’s be clear—this is the direct result of the decisions made by Gov. Abbott, LT. Gov. Dan Patrick and the anti-abortion contingent in the Texas Legislature. If we change the decision makers this November, this failing program can be reformed to the success it once was.

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STATEMENT: Federal Court Blocks Dangerous Provision of SB 8 From Going Into Effect

Federal Court Blocks Dangerous Provision of SB 8 From Going Into Effect

For Release: 8-31-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Austin, TX — Today, a federal court ruled to temporarily block the enactment of a provision of Senate Bill 8 that bans the safest and most common method of abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A coalition of abortion providers represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America brought suit against SB 8 in July. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is proud to stand with our partners in their fight against attacks on abortion access. SB 8 is part of a coordinated national strategy designed to shame people who get abortions, tie the hands of doctors and ban abortion method by method. This bill criminalizes physicians for exercising their best medical judgment and is a dangerous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

Today’s ruling comes after a hateful special legislative session in which anti-choice lawmakers passed a bill that bans private insurance coverage for abortion. The courts, as well as Texans around the state, see through the Legislature’s thinly-veiled attacks that aim to make abortion inaccessible in Texas.

It is shameful that anti-choice lawmakers have no regard for established law or for people’s rights and insist on wasting precious taxpayer dollars defending laws they know to be unconstitutional. It is long past time for lawmakers to stop playing politics with our health care and stop passing measures that risk patients’ health and safety.”

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STATEMENT: Texas House Passes HB 214, a Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

Texas House Passes HB 214, a Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

For Release: 8-8-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Austin, TX — Today, the Texas House passed on second reading House Bill 214, a ban on private insurance coverage for abortion. The bill does not make exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement upon passage —

“Texans should be able to make reproductive health decisions, including the decision to have an abortion, with dignity and respect and without politicians interfering with abortion coverage bans like HB 214. Texans from across the state fought hard this special session to preserve and protect our health and basic rights. Unfortunately, some politicians remain single-mindedly fixated on pushing abortion out of reach in our state. If last year’s Supreme Court ruling won’t slow them down—Texans will have to do it ourselves.

We will continue making our voices heard and growing our numbers until we can defeat these politically-motivated attacks on abortion coverage.”

Don’t let Texas take away insurance coverage for abortion.

Last week, the State Affairs committee heard HB 214, which would ban private insurance plans from coverage abortions and disproportionately target low-income Texans.

HB 214 bans coverage of abortion under all health benefit plans, including private plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. The bill has no exceptions in cases of rape.

CALL the members of the House Committee on State Affairs to voice your opposition. Feel free to use the script below —

Hi, my name is ______.
I’m calling to ask Rep. _____, who is a member of the House State Affairs Committee, to vote NO on HB 214. 
HB 214 will cut off access to abortion for low-income and rural Texans and communities of color. If passed, this bill will directly harm Texas families, who need their insurance plans to cover the full range of pregnancy related care, including abortion. 
 
[Insert your own story, if you like.]
 
I’m counting on the representative to do the right thing and respect pregnant Texans by voting NO on HB 214. 
 
Thank you for your time.
Texas House State Affairs Committee
  • Byron Cook (chair)       (512) 463-0730
  • Helen Giddings (vice-chair)       (512) 463-0953
  • Tom Craddick       (512) 463-0500
  • Jessica Farrar       (512) 463-0620
  • Charlie Geren       (512) 463-0610
  • Ryan Guillen       (512) 463-0416
  • Ken King       (512) 463-0736
  • John Kuempel       (512) 463-0602
  • Morgan Meyer       (512) 463-0367
  • René Oliveira       (512) 463-0640
  • Chris Paddie       (512) 463-0556
  • Eddie Rodriguez       (512) 463-0674
  • John T. Smithee       (512) 463-0702

Stop two anti-abortion bills from going on the House floor.

We expect that at least two anti-abortion bills, HB 214 and HB 14, will be heard before the full House floor soon. These bills are medically unnecessary and will directly harm Texas families who are already struggling to pay for healthcare costs.

HB 214 bans coverage of abortion under all health benefit plans, including private plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. The bill has no exceptions in cases of rape.

HB 14 prohibits local government entities including cities and counties, hospital districts, and state agencies from partnering with health providers that also perform abortions or are affiliated with an abortion provider.

Now is the time to CALL the members on the House Calendars Committee and tell them to stop these medically unnecessary bills from going to the House floor where they will undoubtedly be made worse. Feel free to use the script below:

Hi, my name is ______.
I’m calling to ask Rep. _____, who is a member of the House Calendars Committee, to REJECT sending HB 214 and HB 14 to the full Texas House floor for debate and vote.  
Lawmakers should not be rewarded for targeting low income families and stigmatizing health care. HB 214 and HB 14 have no public health benefit and will cut off access to affordable health care for people across the state. If passed, these bills will further stigmatize abortion care and negatively impact clinics that do important work in their local communities. 
 
[Insert your own story, if you like.]
 
I’m counting on the representative to do the right thing and respect pregnant Texans by STOPPING HB 214 and HB 14 from going before the full House floor. 
 
Thank you for your time.

Texas House Calendars Committee:

  • Chair, Todd Hunter: (512) 463-0672
  • Vice Chair, Donna Howard: (512) 463-0631
  • Roberto Alonzo: (512) 463-0408
  • Trent Ashby: (512) 463-0508
  • Byron Cook: (512) 463-0730
  • Sarah Davis: (512) 463-0389
  • Charlie Geren: (512) 463-0610
  • Helen Giddings: (512) 463-0953
  • Kyle Kacal: (512) 463-0412
  • Ken King: (512) 463-0736
  • Linda Koop: (512) 463-0454
  • Poncho Nevárez: (512) 463-0566
  • Chris Paddie: (512) 463-0556
  • Dade Phelan: (512) 463-0706
  • Toni Rose: (512) 463-0664