New Study Shows Impact of TX Planned Parenthood Defunding

According to a new study, thousands of Texas women lost access to family planning services after the state cut ties with Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Federal funding was slashed as a result. Now we're seeing the numbers and what they mean for women trying to get health care.

After the Obama Administration decreased funding by $30-million in 2011, 82 clinics shut down across the state. One-third of those were Planned Parenthood clinics.

Stacey Pogue authored a study for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning organization. She used state data tracking enrollment in what’s now called Healthy Texas Women. The data also tracked paid claims to see how many of those women enrolled were using the services they signed up for.

The study found enrollment in the state's low-income program fell 24 percent from 2011 to 2016.

During that same time, about 39 percent, or 45,000 fewer women, received services.

Pogue said large metropolitan areas like Dallas-Fort Worth likely weren’t affected as bad as smaller to mid-size cities where she said access to care became more difficult.

Pogue said more than 40 percent of the women had been going to Planned Parenthood.

She said the state tried to make up for that loss with a bunch of individual doctors and clinics that could only see a fraction of the patients.

Planned Parenthood still operates in several locations with help from private funding and grants. Anyone in need of family planning help is free to go to an open location, though the costs may vary.

Some patients, including those in the DFW area who were previously covered under that state plan, now pay out of pocket for Planned Parenthood services. Others are covered, because of grants and meeting special income requirements.

Dallas patient Merlin Quinteros said without help from Planned Parenthood, she'd be struggling.

“It means a lot because I'm trying to start going to school again so it's like, I'm not going to have enough money to pay that and take care of myself and take care of my bills, so it's really good for me,” Quinteros said.

Kelly Hart, the Senior Director for Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood North Texas wants people to know the non-profit organization is still around for those who need it.

“I would tell people don't assume that we can't help you. We're here. Our doors are open. We have programs, we're going to work with you. We're going to do what we can to provide care to every woman no matter what,” Hart said.

NBC 5 reached out to Health and Human Services Commission for reaction to the study. We received this statement:

“We have thousands of providers on board and enrollment is increasing. It's a work in progress, and we have a lot of support and momentum toward making this program a success. We want women to have the services they need, and that's our focus," the statement said.

HHSC also said its enrollment numbers are up from last year.

Texas has requested that the Trump Administration restore the state funding that was lost after 2011. If that happens, it could become a model for states that are considering defunding Planned Parenthood. 

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