The state’s move to drop Planned Parenthood from a health program for low-income women has resulted in a decline in claims of more than five percent.
From January to the beginning of March, the state says there were 14,124 claims made through the new Texas Women’s Health Program. That compares with almost 14,908 under the old Medicaid Women’s Health Program that included Planned Parenthood clinics, a drop of 5.24 percent.
“This is our attempt to get the closest thing to an apples to apples comparison as we can," says Health and Human Services Commission spokesperson Stephanie Goodman, adding that clinics have six months to file a claim. "What we don’t know is, maybe some of those clinics who billed last year billed faster than the ones this year, or maybe they billed slower.”
Planned Parenthood says it is concerned about any decline in the number of women receiving basic health services offered through the program.
"This is preventive health. These are breast cancer screenings. These are cervical cancer screenings," says Sarah Wheat with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. "Uninsured women in Texas have less opportunity to get preventive health care services than they ever have.”
Wheat says she would like to see updated numbers from on the number of women enrolled in the program, but a state website hasn't been updated since last summer.
The Texas legislature passed a law two years ago that excluded organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving funding through the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. In response, the federal government stopped paying for its share of the program – 90 percent – saying Texas could not pick and choose qualified Medicaid providers. Gov. Rick Perry accepted the loss of federal dollars and set up a state-funded program instead.