Day 15: Texas Family Planning Funding Slashed

Microgestin birth control from Planned Parenthood.
Microgestin birth control from Planned Parenthood.

31 Days 31 Ways


Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune is featuring 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

Day 15: Lawmakers slashed family planning funding by two-thirds. The Department of State Health Services expects about 180,000 Texas women will lose access to birth control and cancer screenings.

Planned Parenthood of Texas Capital Region is fighting a budget battle on two fronts. Not only does it face budget cuts from the state's family planning fund. Its health clinics may soon be left out of the Women's Health Program run by Medicaid because they are affiliated with the organization's other clinics that offer abortions (See more information below).

Watch our interview with Dorothy Reno, PPTCR's director of clinics, about the possible effects of those budget cuts on its health clinic on East Seventh Street in downtown Austin. That location is a so-called "teen clinic" that offers free nonabortion services, including STD testing and birth control. The clinic will now be open five days a week instead of six and is reducing the number of people treated from those under 21 years of age to those under 19.

The Department of State Health Services confirmed that the Legislature reduced its overall funding for family planning programs by $73.6 million, from $111.5 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to $37.9 million in the next biennium. The funds are distributed by DSHS.

DSHS spokeswoman Carrie Williams said the department currently works with 72 contractors that provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, wellness exams for women and men, breast and cervical cancer exams, and cholesterol and diabetes screenings.

Planned Parenthood has been the second biggest recipient of family planning contract dollars. It received about 25 percent, or $12 million, of the program's funds last year. Williams said the majority of the funding goes to community-based clinics, local health departments, hospital districts, and the like. (See the Austin American- Statesman's report on how Travis County health programs stand to lose $2 million.)

Note: Organizations such as Planned Parenthood qualify for state funding because they legally separate their abortion clinics from their health clinics.

In all, DSHS reports 220,000 people receive family planning services. The reduction will affect about 180,000 people every year. The Legislative Budget Board has estimated the cuts could lead to 20,500 additional births.

"Our contractors are well aware of the reduction, and we're analyzing our options right now for how to move forward," Williams wrote to the Tribune in an email. 

Another program in Texas that provides nearly identical family planning services to low-income Texans is Medicaid's Women's Health Program, though the Health and Human Services Commission is preparing to enforce a rule "later this year or early next year" that would exclude abortion affiliates like Planned Parenthood's health clinics from receiving reimbursements, according to HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman. 

The state plans to request a waiver to continue the program past January. Currently, HHSC reports more than 100,000 women are enrolled in the Women's Health Program. 

Web resources:

Women's Health Program

Department of State Health Services' Family Planning page

Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region Downtown Austin Clinic provides non-abortion health services to teens

People's Community Clinic

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