Invest In Preventive Care for Low-Income Women

Despite significant gains in women’s health care funding and access last session, more work remains. Increasing the number of women who enroll in the Texas Women’s Health Program, Expanded Primary Health Care Program, and Family Planning Program, as well as increasing the number of physicians and clinics who participate in each program, will be essential to Texas’ efforts to improve maternal health and birth outcomes.

The Texas Women’s Health Program delivers cost-effective basic health care screenings — such as for cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes — as well as birth control. Comprehensive, low-cost, and accessible family planning and reproductive health care services are also made available through the state’s Family Planning Program.  In addition, the Expanded Primary Health Care (EPHC) Program provides primary, preventive and screening services, including contraception, to low-income women, age 18 and older. None of these programs provide abortions. 

More than 50 percent of pregnancies in Texas are unplanned. Increasing the number of women who enroll in the Women’s Health Program after a Medicaid delivery is especially important. Women who have had a Medicaid-funded delivery are at particularly high risk for subsequent pregnancy, often so soon that risks of prematurity and low birth weight are elevated. Babies born too soon or too small often have significant health problems, such as respiratory or developmental delays, contributing to higher medical costs at birth and as the child ages. In 2007, unplanned Medicaid births cost the state more than $1.2 billion. 

If we want healthy children and adults — healthy Texans — who are not going to continue to be a burden on the social welfare system, then we should champion ways to make individuals responsible for their contraception and personal health. Texas must educate both older adults and young people about contraception. Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) in particular have been shown to be extremely effective in decreasing unintended pregnancies. What’s more, studies show educating teenagers about contraception, including LARC, actually delays sexual intercourse and also helps reduce unintended pregnancies. By improving access to the Texas Women's Health Program, the Family Planning Program, and the Expanded Primary Care Program, Texas can give young couples the tools to take responsibility for their future and protect their own health and their children's.

84th Texas Legislature Testimonies and Letters