DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The new Texas Women’s Health Plan is up and running, but without Planned Parenthood providers. And many clients now find themselves confused about the process that’s forced them to find new doctors.
“It’s not right,” says Rotunda McDowell. McDowell says her college age daughter is one of those caught in the crossfire of healthcare and contentious politics. Her daughter is a Women’s Health Plan client now being told that she can no longer receive care for free at Planned Parenthood Clinics.
“We have so many things we have to deal with—breast cancer, cervical cancer– we have to stay healthy,” says McDowell. “If you don’t have insurance and the money and the means to get the care that you need, what choice do you have, other than do without?”
A judge this week refused to grant a temporary restraining order to keep the agency’s providers in the program until the case comes to court. A Planned Parenthood spokesperson says the agency is fielding calls from one-time clients and encouraging them to continue to access care.
“We are telling them that if they want to continue to receive their health care from Planned Parenthood, we’re going to do everything we can to make that possible.”
But, that care will come at a price. Clients enrolled in the Texas Women’s Health Program receive exams and family planning services for free. Planned Parenthood clinics charge $100 for an annual exam. That cost does not include contraceptives and only covers about two-thirds of the clinic’s cost. Still, agency officials say they will not turn clients away who cannot afford to pay, concerned that inconvenienced women will skip life-saving exams rather than search for new doctors.
“It’s a big concern,” says Hart. “We know that there are not enough providers to make up for the approximately 50,000 patients a year that were seen in Planned Parenthood health centers.”
Officials say patient assistance funds will be used to bridge the gap between billed costs and what the patients can afford to pay. Meanwhile, as patients continue to navigate the changes, the legal battle rages on: the next court hearing is scheduled for next week. Planned Parenthood is asking for an injunction to force the state to include its providers in the new Texas Women’s Health program.
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