The Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition is immensely grateful that Texas legislators recognize women’s preventive health care — including check-ups, high blood pressure screenings, and contraception — means healthier babies, healthier mothers and lower costs for taxpayers. The 2016-2017 budget includes $50 million in new funding for women’s preventive healthcare. Combined with the funding restoration in the 2013 legislative session, this funding has the potential to reverse much of the devastating effect of the 2011 budget cuts and subsequent upheavals to women’s health programs.
If implemented thoughtfully, this funding will increase the number of women served and help provide access for the more than 1.3 million Texas women in need of contraception and other preventive services. In order for the full potential of these programs to be realized, more providers must be recruited to participate and any consolidation must be done with meaningful provider input.
A second victory for women’s preventive healthcare is the provider advisory committee required by Rep. Donna Howard’s amendment to Senate Bill 200. As programs are implemented, this workgroup can help ensure program design and procedures that support participation by safety-net providers, allow same-day service, and serve the most women in need.
The third women’s preventive-health victory this legislative session is the budget rider that requires increasing access to Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (like implants and IUDs), including the education and training needed. These “LARCs” are a new and highly effective generation of birth control, making it possible to lower dramatically rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion.