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Plans Progressing To Save State’s Women’s Health Program

Seattle Municipal Archives
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The state’s Health and Human Services Commission says it plans to present a funding option for the Women’s Health Program to the Legislative Budget Board soon. KERA’s BJ Austin says that would be good news at Parkland Hospital, where some 9,000 woman are enrolled in the program at risk of being eliminated.

Federal Medicaid funds are being phased out because of the Legislature’s decision to exclude Planned Parenthood, and any affiliates, from the program. That’s 90% of the funding. The Governor has promised to find the money to continue the 40 million dollar a year program.

Paula Turicchi heads Women’s Health at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. She says they have a “Plan B” in case state funding falls through.

Turicchi: What we’ve decided to do is to continue to see our patients but ask them to make a $25 co-pay during their visit. Under the Women’s Health Program all of the services were covered at no charge for the patient.

Turicchi says the co-pay plan would give the women somewhere to get birth control and annual check-ups inexpensively. But, she says $25 per visit could be a financial hardship on many.

Turicchi: The women in this program are choosing between paying their bills and going to the doctor; or buying their children’s clothes or buying food and going to the doctor. So, this program really is important.

Stephanie Goodman, with the Health and Human Services Commission says Parkland won’t need that Plan B. She says administrative savings gained from upgrading a computer system could be one funding source.

Another idea is to use additional, unrelated federal money for appropriate state-funded programs, so that state money could be used for the Women’s Health Program.

April 30th is the deadline for family planning providers to re-enlist in the Women’s Health Program and certify they are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.