Study shows Medicaid-backed Women’s Health Program saves Texas millions
According to a new report from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission says the Medicaid-funded Women’s Health Program saved Texas $20 million and averted thousands of unplanned pregnancies in 2009.
While that program is supported by federal money, the Texas Legislature’s latest budget includes drastic cuts that will leave up to 300,000 women without basic health care provided by a similar state-funded program.
Anti-abortion rights advocates and a Republican-controlled Legislature rallied to defund Planned Parenthood earlier this year, claiming cuts would eliminate the number of abortions performed in the state. But the Medicaid-administered Women’s Health Program — in jeopardy of losing its ability to reimburse Planned Parenthood affiliates — provides basic preventive health care like breast cancer screenings and birth control to low-income women, not abortions.
The new HHSC study finds the program prevented an estimated 6,721 unintended pregnancies during the same year.
“The report shows that family planning saves taxpayers millions of dollars and helps Texans delay their pregnancies until they can provide their kids with a healthy and stable childhood,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) in a statement. “It is a shame that Republican legislators ignored the evidence and slashed funding for family planning and women’s health services.”
Family planning services disbursed by the state’s Department of State Health Services saw a reduction of about $74 million, cutting down $111 million this fiscal year to $38 million. The Legislative Budget Board estimates the cuts could yield roughly 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.
Though the HHSC report was released months after the Legislature wrapped up, a spokesman for Villarreal said the substance of the report — a calculation, for instance, that the federal program saved $10 for every dollar spent — was available to lawmakers during budget talks.