Women's Health

Women's Health
4:28 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Doctors in Women's Health Program Can Discuss Abortion

La'Tonya Ephraim speaks with Carrie Adney, a Women's Health Program client since last year, at Seton-Circle of Care Women's Services in Round Rock, TX.
Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

In a peace offering of sorts to medical and women's groups on Thursday, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek announced rules for the new state-run Women's Health Program that permit doctors to discuss abortion with their patients and practice alongside physicians who provide abortions.

“What we wanted was to allow for the one-on-one, private, non-directive counseling between a physician and her patient,” Janek said.

But the new rules have done little to stem the frustration of family planning providers: They come as the state's Republican leaders prepare to run the Women's Health Program on their own — without the federal support the state has received for years, and without Planned Parenthood clinics.

“Once and for all, we implore Texas to put politics aside and put women’s health first," said Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. "The Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood have worked together to provide women with essential health services, including cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams, for the past five years." 

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AM Update: 9/4/12
8:54 am
Tue September 4, 2012

AM Update: Hearing on Women's Health Program, Lawmakers to Discuss Texas Prisons, New Rules for CDLs

Protestors Rally in Austin during March rally.
flickr.com/scATX

It's back to work today for many after a long Labor Day weekend. Expect another day in the triple digits.

Public Invited to Comment on Texas Women’s Health Program

Today the public will get a chance to express their thoughts on proposed changes to the Texas Women’s Health Program – what used to be known as the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

The program provides health services to about 130,000 low-income Texas women. It has been mostly paid for with federal funding. But when Texas lawmakers decided to enforce a state rule that the program could not support clinics affiliated with abortions, the Obama Administration vowed to cut off the funding. When Medicaid funding is cut off in November, Governor Rick Perry says Texas will pay for the program. The details of how the state will take on the funding have not yet been outlined.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is suing in hopes of retaining funding. Planned Parenthood says their clinics provide important health services to women who would otherwise have a hard time getting them.

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Health
4:49 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

State-Run Women's Health Program Faces Questions

As state officials prepare to take full control of the once federally funded Texas Women’s Health Program on Nov. 1, they’re running into a series of unexpected challenges, from controversy around proposed rule changes to questions about how to cover the 130,000 enrolled clients within the confines of a tight state budget. 

The state has pledged to forgo $35 million in annual federal funding — a 9 to 1 match — in order to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from the program, clinics that have used Women's Health Program dollars to provide contraception and cancer screenings, but not abortions. Two separate courts have blocked Texas from ejecting those clinics ahead of legal hearings scheduled for the fall.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry has directed the Health and Human Services Commission to find a way to fund the 6-year-old program exclusively with state dollars. 

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Health
12:17 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Free Birth Control Insurance Coverage Takes Effect Today

Women will receive eight new cost-free health care benefits starting August 1st.
Flickr user Monik Marcus, http://bit.ly/ODQleE

Starting today, millions of women are going to receive birth control coverage at no upfront cost, a change supporters say gives women greater access and control over their own health care.

Through a provision in the Affordable Care Act, “non-grandfathered” insurance plans must provide eight new, free prevention-related health services for policies renewed or issued on or after September 23, 2012.

The new services, provided with no cost-sharing, include: well-woman exams, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV DNA testing, domestic violence screenings and counseling, HIV screenings, breastfeeding supplies, contraception and family counseling services. 

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Health
9:03 am
Thu July 5, 2012

State Looks to Cut Number of Medicaid-Covered Premature Births

Natasha and Mark Rosen, of Austin, with premature baby Matthew, in Seton Medical Center Austin's neonatal intensive care unit.
Caleb Miller Bryant, Texas Tribune

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is launching a new Medicaid initiative to help prevent premature births.

The program was launched this week and provides a 24-hour help line and other resources to help mothers carry their babies to term.

Medicaid pays for more than half of the births in Texas. HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told The Texas Tribune that premature births are especially expensive.

“One of those babies is more than 18 times the cost of a regular newborn,” said Goodman. “If we can reduce that, we can save a lot of money.”

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AM Update
7:39 am
Wed June 6, 2012

AM Update: Lady Bird Lake Study, F1 Tickets Going On Sale, Texans Divided On Planned Parenthood

Experts reveal initial plans for Austin's south shore; Tickets for Austin's F1 Grand Prix on sale Sunday; Texans have opposing views of Planned Parenthood.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News; Photo by Lucia Duncan for KUT News; Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Initial Findings Announced for Lady Bird Lake

Tonight, a team of riverfront planners, landscape architects and green builders will share their vision for the future of Lady Bird Lake’s south shore.

The team has spent the last few days studying what they call “South Shore Central”—which is the area around Congress and First Street. The city says the area is lacking in infrastructure.

Austin won a grant for sustainable development that covers the consulting fees. The team toured the shoreline by land and by boat and listened to recommendations from Austinites.

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Health
3:26 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

Backers of Cost-Free Coverage for Birth Control Fault Legal Challenges

Andrew Shaw iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 2:27 pm

You know all those lawsuits now pending around the country charging that the Obama administration's rule requiring most health insurance plans to offer no-cost contraception is a violation of religious freedom?

Well, a whole bunch of supporters of the rule are chiming in now to say that argument has no legal merit.

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Women's Health
8:32 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Catholic Groups Sue Obama Administration Over Birth Control Rule

In a compromise, President Obama proposed to allow religious universities and charities offer birth control coverage through their own health insurers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 3:21 pm

So much for compromise.

A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration's rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom.

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Women's Health
2:23 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

When Religious Rules And Women's Health Collide

Hospital rules can affect a woman's options for care.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 3:18 pm

When you go to the hospital these days, chances are good that it will be affiliated with a religious organization. And while that may might just mean the chaplain will be of a specific denomination or some foods will be off limits, there may also be rules about the kind of care allowed.

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Women's Health
4:33 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Court Rules Planned Parenthood Must Stay in Texas Women's Health Program

A Central Texas-area Planned Parenthood.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/kellycree

A federal judge says the state of Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

The program provides contraceptives and basic health screenings for more than 100,000 low income women in Texas. A state rule aimed at preventing Planned Parenthood from providing services under the program was put in place earlier this year.

A federal appeals judge today said there is evidence that the rule is unconstitutional – and upheld a lower court’s order that temporarily blocks the state from enforcing it.

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Women's Health
2:18 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Judge: HHSC Must Keep Planned Parenthood in WHP For Now

La'Tonya Ephraim speaks with Carrie Adney, a Women's Health Program client since last year, at Seton-Circle of Care Women's Services in Round Rock, TX.
Photo by Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

A district judge in Austin has ordered Texas to temporarily stop its enforcement of a rule that would have removed 49 Planned Parenthood clinics from the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program starting May 1.

In a 25-page opinion, United States District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the Planned Parenthood organizations that filed the lawsuit proved there could be irreparable harm to their clinics that rely on Women’s Health Program funding to help uninsured Texans access cervical and breast cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing. Yeakel also expressed doubt that the state could find enough providers by Tuesday to replace the Planned Parenthood clinics with other health providers.

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Health
11:51 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Texas Planned Parenthood Branches Will Vote on Merger

Planned Parenthood supporters rally at the Capitol on Tuesday morning.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

The boards of three regional Planned Parenthood branches — North TexasCentral Texas and the Capital Region — will vote today on a proposed merger designed to form a $29 million-per-year mega-organization with 26 clinics up and down the Interstate 35 corridor.

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Women's Health
3:17 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Texas Asks for Time Transitioning to New Women's Health Program

Texas is asking for federal assistance transitioning to its own women's health care program.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/dennissylvesterhurd

Today, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission delivered a proposal to the Obama administration outlining plans for transitioning the state's Women’s Health Program from a mostly federally funded program to one that runs on state money.

In it, the state has asked that the federal government pay for the program through October. Federal funds were initially supposed to be phased out by April 30.

Thanh Tan is a reporter with KUT’s political reporting partner The Texas Tribune. Expanding on a report the Tribune published today, Tan says the plan outlined today still doesn’t account for where Texas is going to get the money to fund the Women’s Health Program.

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Health
11:09 am
Fri March 23, 2012

The Storm Over Women's Health Care Had Been Brewing

Seton-Circle of Care Women's Services at TAMHSC.
Photo by Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

In the battle between state leaders and the Obama administration over Texas’ decision to oust health care providers affiliated with abortion clinics from a five-year-old contraception and cancer-screening program, both sides believe they are the victims.

The Obama administration says Texas is violating federal law by limiting where poor women can seek health care, and it announced last week that it was cutting off financing for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which does not pay for abortions and received $9 in federal financing for every $1 the state contributed.

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Health
12:26 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Hutchison Urges Perry to Reconsider Health Program

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison talks with supporters at the Bonnie Ruth's Cafe in suburban Frisco, TX during a campaign stop for the Republican nomination for Texas governor.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison broke ranks from her party on Thursday to urge Gov. Rick Perry — her opponent in the 2010 Texas governor's race — to re-negotiate with the Obama administration to keep federal funding for the Medicaid Women's Health Program.

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