Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Texas Women’s Health Program removes 965 providers from former Medicaid program
The Affiliate Ban Rule forced the exclusion of 50 Planned Parenthood clinics that formerly provided health care for low-income women.
A revised list of Texas Women’s Health Program providers — with 965 fewer doctors and clinics — has returned to the state’s website.
The Health and Human Services Commission removed the list earlier this month after lawmakers and women’s health advocates challenged its accuracy. State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, for example, contacted 104 providers listed in the Fort Worth region and found only 11 accepted WHP patients and three of them provided only limited services.
The Texas WHP replaced the federal Medicaid WHP on January 1. The program's Affiliate Ban Rule, which prohibits providers associated with abortion clinics from participation, forced the exclusion of 50 Planned Parenthood clinics that participated in the former Medicaid program. Without Planned Parenthood, women's health advocates have argued that the state will not be able to adequately serve low-income women enrolled in the program.
The HHSC had previously stated that the Texas WHP had 3,500 participating providers, roughly 1,000 more than the number of providers that participated in the former Medicaid WHP. That list has shrunk to 2,448 doctors and clinics, as 965 providers said they would not accept WHP patients, despite being certified for the program. The contact information for 700 other providers has also been updated on the state's website.
“HHSC added the provider search back to the Texas Women’s Health Program website late Friday after thousands of calls were made to verify the information,” Linda Edwards-Gockel said in an email. “The search is now set up to display first those health care providers who can serve the greatest number of clients.”
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, said in an email that she remains skeptical of the list's accuracy. Farrar requested a list of all WHP providers and the number of patients they can serve from the HHSC under the Public Information Act, but the agency is still processing her request. “After briefly going through part of the list for Houston providers, my staff already found numerous duplicates.”
To test the capacity of the WHP without the participation of Planned Parenthood, the HHSC conducted a survey of providers in areas surrounded by Planned Parenthood clinics and found two areas, San Angelo and Corsicana, that likely do not have enough providers to serve enrolled WHP patients without Planned Parenthood. An interactive map of those survey results can be found here.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Texas Tribune