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September 1, 2013

Me & My OBGAugust 26, 2013Articles

September 1, 2013 marks a significant time for our state – it’s on that day that almost 700 bills passed during the regular session of the 83rd Legislature will take effect. Over the next two weeks, we’ll spotlight what new laws will have a direct impact on T exas women and their health: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Senate Bill (SB) 1 – the Budget

Each legislative session, state lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass a budget to cover the next two years. How will the recently passed state budget for 2014-15 affect the health of Texas women?

FAMILY PLANNING

  • The Good

    The budget provides the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Family Planning Program with an additional $32.1 million to replace federal Title X dollars awarded to the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas.

  • The Bad

    The restoration of funds only offsets devastating cuts made to the program in 2011. What’s more, the funds are divided between four programs, two state agencies, and one private provider network, which may result in confusion for women trying to access services and difficulty in ensuring that funds and services are distributed in the most efficient and effective way possible to better serve the women of Texas.

  • The Ugly

    DSHS Family Planning providers are limited to those eligible to participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program. This essentially extends the “affiliate ban rule” to the Family Planning Program, keeping certain providers out of the program.

PRIMARY HEALTH CARE

  • The Good

    The budget provides a DSHS Primary Health Care Expansion of $100 million for the biennium for women’s preventive care. Of the $100 million, 60% is expected to go to family planning services, including contraceptive care.

  • The Bad

    Specialized family clinics may have difficulty accessing these funds as many do not traditionally provide primary healthcare services and will need to do so to qualify for this program.

  • The Ugly

    Again, Primary Health Care Expansion program providers must be eligible to participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program—extending the “affiliate ban rule” to this program as well. By keeping certain providers out of the program, provider capacity may be an issue.

TEXAS WOMEN’S HEALTH PROGRAM

  • The Good

    provides $71.3 million of state funding for the Texas Women’s Health Program.

  • The Bad

    This funding maintains the program, but shifts the funding source from federal to state dollars.

  • The Ugly

    90% of this is to replace lost federal funding, due to the “affiliate ban rule” implemented in 2011.

SB 495 – the Maternal Mortality and Severe Maternal Morbidity Task Force

Focused determination from Me & My OBG, ACOG, Senator Joan Huffman, Representative Armando Walle, and supporters like you compelled the legislature to pass SB 495, which creates a task force to study maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.

  • The Good

    The task force will help identify trends and make recommendations in order to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants, and reduce preventable maternal deaths and complications.The task force will examine factors that contribute to maternal mortality and morbidity such as health, economy, environment, and access to care – and how those factors vary by region.

  • The Bad

    The Texas maternal mortality rate remains higher than the national rate, which has doubled since 2005.

  • The Ugly

    The increase in maternal mortality in Texas has been severe. The rate in Texas has quadrupled (from 6.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 24.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) over the last 15 years.

The public policy enacted at the end of each legislative session presents both good and not-so-good results for the health of Texas women. We will discuss more new laws and their likely effects in the upcoming weeks. And we will, most importantly, closely follow the implementation of the new policies and look for opportunities to affect what pro-women policy can be considered in the future.

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