The new, state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP) will not launch tomorrow, despite state officials’ earlier claims that the program would be ready to see clients without the inclusion of Planned Parenthood.
Texas Health and Human Services’ executive commissioner Kyle Janek announced today that the state will continue to take federal funds, keeping in place the Medicaid Women’s Health Program that, unlike the state program, does not bar Planned Parenthood from participation.
The takeaway: at least for now, Planned Parenthood can continue to see the nearly 50,000 clients on its rolls in the Women’s Health Program—about half of the program’s total enrollees, who rely on the program for pap smears and contraception. “HHSC has been working to line up providers across the state for the new Texas WHP,” Governor Rick Perry said via press release today, appearing with Janek at an Austin-area health care center this morning to say that the state is “ready” to implement the state-funded Texas WHP but not so ready that it will actually implement it.
Janek has claimed previously that the state had plenty of providers ready to pick up the clients who previously went to Planned Parenthood for care, saying that he has “five family planning clinics and more than 70 individual physicians waiting to take the place of every clinic that won’t qualify under the new rule.”
Who and where those clinics and physicians are now, a day before the November 1st deadline originally set to implement the Texas WHP, is a mystery. RH Reality Check has repeatedly asked Texas Health And Human Services for a list of their non-Planned Parenthood qualified providers but so far been provided with nothing. This all stems from Texas’ classification of Planned Parenthood as an abortion “affiliate,” which according to a newly enforced, but not newly enacted, state law disqualifies the provider from participating in the WHP.
The federal government disagrees; the Center for Medicaid Services has said it will cut off federal funds for the WHP at the end of the year if Texas does not allow Planned Parenthood to participate. For the past few years, the federal government has provided 90 percent of the WHP’s funding; without that federal money, budget-strapped Texas is left to fund the nearly $40 million program on its own. Planned Parenthood has so far filed two lawsuits, one in federal court and one in state court, challenging Texas’ decision, and both are pending future hearings. For its part, the state of Texas said earlier this month that it will completely shut down the Women’s Health Program if courts compel the state to include Planned Parenthood, leaving more than 100,000 low-income Texas without the contraception and cancer screenings they need.