The State of Women's Health

Transforming Women’s Healthcare in Texas

By Megan Kilgore

Texas State Capitol

Photo by Megan Kilgore

Prior to 2011, the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program and the Department of State Health Services’ family planning services provided funding for low income women to receive contraception and preventive care, including annual well woman exams and cancer screenings. The Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition estimates that funding met approximately 32 percent of the need for these services in Texas.

During the state budget crisis of 2011, however, state lawmakers cut DSHS family planning funds by two-thirds, diverting that money to other areas such as child mental health programs and crisis pregnancy centers. In what some have called a “war on women,” the legislature also went after one of the Women’s Health Program’s largest beneficiaries: Planned Parenthood. The battle that ensued brought about a complete transformation of the Women’s Health Program from a joint state and federal Medicaid program to a state-only program and what Dr. Janet Realini of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition calls “devastating” public health and fiscal consequences.

Out on a Lege

Below is a timeline of key events and media coverage of the transformation of both the Women’s Health Program and DSHS family planning services from the beginning of the 2011 legislative session to the time this project was completed: May 2013.