For almost a year, Governor Rick Perry and his health commissioners have been saying that Planned Parenthood affiliates will be excluded from the Women’s Health Program.
Although the clinics in question don’t provide abortions, they are affiliated with the Planned Parenthood organization.
They provide the free birth control and other services like Pap smears that make up the program.
Rochelle Tafolla is with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast here in Houston.
She says if the affiliates are kicked out of the program, tens of thousands of women will be struggling to find new providers who will accept the government reimbursement.
“We’re in state court to protect women’s health. It’s what we have been doing from the very beginning. This has never been about Planned Parenthood; it’s been about the tens of thousands of Texas women who rely on us for basic healthcare.”
Governor Perry has said that in order to exclude Planned Parenthood, the state will give up millions of dollars in federal funds and pay to set up its own Women’s Health Program.
However, Texas wasn’t able to start that state program by November 1.
So Planned Parenthood is still taking part, and the federal government is still paying for 90 percent of the costs.
Tafolla says it’s getting confusing for patients.
“When Governor Perry or (Health) Commissioner Janek hold press conferences saying that they are going to start a new program that does not include Planned Parenthood, we do have women calling wondering if they are still able to keep their appointment or come to us for their healthcare. And so we are educating them as they call and making sure we have information up on our website, etc., to let them know we are still in the program.”
Planned Parenthood also has filed suit in federal court, but has put that case on hold while it fights in the state court.
In a statement, Governor Perry called this court switch a “stalling tactic” and said Planned Parenthood wants to defy the will of the Texas taxpayers and voters.
For now, federal funding will continue through the end of 2012, but the status of the program after that becomes uncertain.
It might become a state program as Governor Perry hopes, but that would require millions of dollars in state funding, and for more doctors to agree to take part.