After GOP "reforms," Texas family planning program serving 77 percent fewer women

For an additional cost of nearly 20 percent

By Katie McDonough

Published November 22, 2013 4:19PM (EST)

                                   (Alice Keeney/AP)
(Alice Keeney/AP)

This has been a really bad year for Texas women, but it is also important to remember that 2013 is only the most recent in a series of really bad years for Texas women.

State lawmakers passed a two-year budget during the 2011 legislative session that cut $73 million from family planning programs, and Rick Perry dissolved the state’s partnership with the federal Women’s Health Program the following year, forfeiting millions in Medicaid funding for low-income women’s healthcare.

At the time, the Texas Legislative Budget Board estimated that the cuts would cause thousands of women to lose access to family planning services and low-cost healthcare, which is precisely what is happening right now.

As Andrew Grimes reports at RH Reality Check, the Republican-led "reforms" to the program have resulted in a 77 percent drop in the number of women being served by state health clinics and increased costs for this care by close to 20 percent.

More from RH Reality Check:

In 2010, providers in the state’s fully funded family planning program saw nearly 212,000 patients. In 2013, the providers that managed to stay afloat after the funding cuts saw a little over 47,000 patients. As the number of clients receiving low-cost cancer screenings and contraception has dramatically decreased, state-funded providers are spending more per client than ever, with the average cost per client increasing from $204.58 to $240.10 over the last three years.

At a [Texas Department of State Health Services] council meeting Wednesday in Austin, commissioner Dr. David Lakey told council members that the decline in clients served was a direct result of the 2011 funding cuts.

“There’s been significant changes in the way that we’re addressing some of these issues following the last two legislative sessions,” said Lakey, who anticipates that a new funding stream created in the 2013 legislative session, which diverts family planning dollars to primary care providers, will serve 170,000 clients when fully implemented.

“We’re hoping that the [enrollment] numbers [will] increase because the infrastructure is now being rebuilt with that funding,” said Lakey. “It’s a different strategy now.”

Whether the new primary care model will be able to provide family planning services at the same level of capacity and cost-effectiveness as the pre-budget cut specialty providers remains to be seen, and because of the nature of pregnancy, birth data resulting from the funding cuts is not yet available. However, during the state family planning program’s peak enrollment periods in 2010 and 2011, DSHS reported the state’s lowest abortion rates in a decade, with preliminary data for 2012 showing a ten-year low of just 68,298 abortions, following two consecutive years in which more than 200,000 low-income Texans had access to affordable family planning.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Abortion Reproductive Rights Rick Perry Texas Wendy Davis Women's Rights