STATEMENT: New Report Prevents Accurate Measurement of Controversial Women’s Health Programs

STATEMENT: New Report Prevents Accurate Measurement of Controversial Women’s Health Programs

For Release: 4-27-2018

Contact: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, [email protected]

 

AUSTIN, TX — Yesterday, the Texas Health and Human Services released a report on the state’s women’s health programs, which includes Healthy Texas Women and the Family Planning Program. While the report shows that the programs served more women in state fiscal year 2017 than it did in FY 2016, the state’s reporting methodology makes it impossible to know if as many Texans are receiving care as they did before the programs were cut in 2011.

The inclusion of providers with no reproductive health care experience like The Heidi Group resulted in only achieving the national average of 8 percent long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) usage, likely due to the unfamiliarity of providers with LARC methods and unavailability of these methods in their offices, and only 2 percent of the program’s patients were teens.

Blake Rocap, interim executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement on the report —

“Lawmakers required this report from the Health and Human Services Commission so they could evaluate the policy and funding changes they made to these programs. Unfortunately, this report does not  demonstrate the state’s programs are successful; key data required by the Legislature to make that conclusion is missing. Without information on how many clients each provider served, it is impossible to know which contractors met their goals and which are spending tax dollars most efficiently. Refusing to release the required data frustrates the intent of the report, and does not allow the Legislature to provide appropriate contract compliance oversight to an agency that obviously needs it.

“The number of total providers is not indicative of actual program capacity, almost half did not provide any care; the number of total enrollees is not indicative of patient access, almost half did not receive care. Texas is failing by not accurately tracking how its programs work therefore denying lawmakers the opportunity to make sound public policy.

“If the agency is going to ignore budget rider directives from lawmakers, we suggest they restore the ability of patients to see any qualified provider of their choice, take the nine to one  federal matching dollars and return the program to the success it enjoyed before anti-abortion politicians destroyed it in 2011.

###

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.

Get involved this year by signing up to receive updates on 2018 legislative races and take this 30-second survey to help us get out the pro-choice vote!