Texas works to make women aware of health providers to replace Planned Parenthood

Look up right now and you might see one of the 36 pink billboards dotting Texas cities urging women to go to the state for their reproductive health needs.

But marketing the Healthy Texas Women Program isn’t the average public health outreach campaign — it’s a test for Texas legislators. The program marks the state’s second attempt at reimagining how to provide reproductive health and family planning services for low-income women without the involvement of Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. Some critics say not enough women are aware of the program.

For the 2017 budget year, the program has an average enrollment of 141,000 women. That's less than the 176,577 who were enrolled in a previous version of the program in 2015. And it's less than the 207,041 who were enrolled in the Medicaid Women's Health Program in 2011, when groups like Planned Parenthood were allowed to provide services. Meanwhile, the number of women eligible for the program has grown.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, said he asked his wife, other women staffers in his office, neighbors and friends if they had heard of the Healthy Texas Women Program and that they said no. He is proposing giving the Health and Human Services Commission more money to market the program.

“We need awareness,” Leach said. “They’re doing a great job, but they need more resources.”

Under the program, low-income women ages 18 to 44 are eligible for services including pregnancy testing, STD testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling, postpartum depression screenings, as well as help with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Fifteen- to 17-year-olds are also eligible if a parent signs them up. The program does not offer abortion services.
This program actually offers more services that Planned Parenthood, which tends to use those kinds of services to market their abortion business which is their main sources of revenue.


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