Some are calling it the most significant step forward in public health care in Texas history. A new Women's Health Program that goes into effect today will open the door for 1.5 million more women across Texas to get free birth control, and other services.
Newschannel 10's Marissa Bagg explains what the program is, and why supporters say it will save the state millions of dollars.
By providing free birth control, this program aims to reduce the number of unintended births in Texas. Because as it stands right now, more than half of all births in the state are paid for by Medicaid, and that's breaking the piggy bank.
"There are 375,000 births in Texas and 52% of them are paid for by the state at $9,000 a pop,
you are talking about the state going bankrupted by these births," says Claudia Stravato, of Planned Parenthood. So to curb the problem, the state will provide eligible women continuous birth control.
The program also offers screenings for diabetes and heart disease, as well as family counseling.
Even though it does *not* provide emergency contraception or services for women under 18, some local health providers are praising it.
"They're trying to do something to curb the costs and help women at the same time, so I think it's long overdue," says Lisa Campbell, who works for Texas Tech's University of Health Sciences Center at Amarillo.
"This program will enable Texas to put the brakes on the huge overpopulation of the state that the state can no longer afford to pay for," says Stravato.
If all goes as planned the state will save big bucks in the next five years by reducing the number of unintended births.
"The program has to save Texas in it's first few years $430 million, which will also save the Federal Government money, it will also take loads off of social services in the state, they have to pick those children up," says Stravato.
Stravato says all of the 10,000 patients served by Planned Parenthood in our area would benefit from this program.