As Texas continues a legal battle with Planned Parenthood, the Women’s Health Program remains unchanged — for now. And so does the looming question: Will Texas have enough providers in its health care network for the Texas Women’s Health Program if the state succeeds in court and ousts Planned Parenthood?
“I don’t have a question that the capacity will be there, I think there will be clinics that will be brought up to speed and open up,” said Gov. Rick Perry at a press conference on Wednesday, emphasizing the state was ready to launch the Texas Women’s Health Program that excludes Planned Parenthood.
In March, Perry pledged the state would forgo millions of federal dollars and launch the Texas Women’s Health Program, so that the state could implement its “Affiliate Ban Rule,” which lawmakers approved during the 2011 legislative session to bar clinics affiliated with abortion providers from participating in the program.
But Texas did not launch the program as planned on Nov. 1. Policymakers have said the program won't begin until federal funding — which is expected to continue until Dec. 31 — runs out, or the courts decide how the state should proceed.
Opponents of the state’s plan argue Texas won’t have the capacity to provide health services to women enrolled in the WHP without Planned Parenthood. They cite research from George Washington University, which found Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas serve 50 to 80 percent of women enrolled in the WHP. An analysis by the Center for Public Policy Priorities found 45 percent of WHP claims were filed by Planned Parenthood providers in 2011.
This interactive shows the locations of 3,336 unique entities signed up to serve women currently enrolled in the Women’s Health Program. That includes 1,067 obstetricians and gynecologists, 1,041 family practices and 151 family planning clinics.
When looking at the map, keep in mind that clinics and physicians at those clinics may bill the state separately for different types of services. Therefore, in many instances there will be multiple physicians, clinics or other providers associated with the same location — and all are included separately on this map. Small groups of providers are represented by green circles, medium groups by yellow circles and large groups by red circles. Hover over these circles to see the area in which those providers are located. Click on the map to zoom in, then click a marker to see that particular provider’s name and specialty.
The map is also color-coded to show the number of households at 185 percent of the federal poverty line, or $41,350 for a family of four — the income eligibility threshold for participants in the WHP — by census tract, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.
The WHP provides cancer screenings and contraception — but not abortions — to 130,000 impoverished Texas women who would be eligible for Medicaid if they became pregnant. The program saves the state millions of dollars annually by averting unplanned pregnancies, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In 2009, for example, the state paid $29 million for the WHP and prevented $75 million that would have been spent on Medicaid births — a net savings of $46 million.
The intent of the “Affiliate Ban Rule” lawmakers approved last legislative session was to oust Planned Parenthood from the program. Republican lawmakers argued the organization could shift state funds to abortion clinics. But some lawmakers, including state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, have said that there is no evidence that such cost shifting has occurred.
Of the 151 family planning clinics on the map, 26 are Planned Parenthood clinics that still participate in the Women’s Health Program. Stephanie Goodman, the spokeswoman for the HHSC said those are the only providers that would be removed from this list if the state switches to the Texas Women’s Health Program.