Potential changes to Women's Health Program - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Potential changes to Women's Health Program

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Amarillo, TX - Hundreds of thousands of uninsured Texas women, including tens of thousands right here in our area, could see their health services reduced as early as November 1st.

The Women's Health Program provides health care to low-income and uninsured women in Texas -- 34 percent of Texas women are uninsured, the highest in the nation.

Potter County is not far behind, with 31 percent.

George Washington University recently released a report analyzing the potential impact of the program's loss (see associated link).

Haven Health Clinics CEO Carolena Cogdill says the WHP is a vital part of health care in Amarillo, and losing it could be a serious detriment to the area, saying,

"Last month we saw about 6,000 patients, and 90 percent of those patients were WHP. So the majority of the women that we see fall under that program. If anything were to happen with that program, then it would be devastating to this community."

The program's main goal is to reduce unplanned pregnancies, which can lead to a host of social ills, as Cogdill adds,

"The effect of unintended pregnancies affects everybody.  When women have children that they don't want, we're talking about child abuse, neglect, and the fallout from that is tremendous."

As it stands now, the WHP is a Medicaid-waiver program, which means 90 percent of its funding comes from the federal government.

Governor Rick Perry has historically and vigorously rejected federal Medicaid funding on grounds that the strings attached to that money constitutes an unjustified intrusion into state sovereignty.  In a March interview, Mister Perry said he is opposed to any mandate requiring Texas to fund any entity that supports Planned Parenthood, saying,

"We don't want Planned Parenthood and their affiliates who are in the abortion business engaged in this process.  This is pretty straight up."

By law, no federal or state taxpayer dollars can be used to fund abortions.

The Women's Health Program does not appear to be in jeopardy, however, as Mister Perry has said the state legislature can find a way to fund the $40 million dollar program without federal assistance.

However, many low-income women as close as Lubbock, Midland, and Dallas have much to lose, as Planned Parenthood is their dominant health care provider.

To see if you're eligible for the Women's Health Program, follow the link attached to this story.