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the Austin American-Statesman

Coalition Pushes Legislature to Restore Cuts to Women’s Health Services

Mary Ann Roser

A coalition of 32 medical groups and nonprofits is asking state lawmakers to restore cuts to women’s health care services that, while aimed at Planned Parenthood, have hit other providers of care to poor women, especially in rural areas.

“The damage has been extensive,” said Dr. Janet Realini, steering committee chairwoman of the newly formed Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, at a state Capitol news conference Wednesday. Reductions in funding and services “happened in every public health region” in the state, she said.

The Legislature cut by 66 percent funding to the Department of State Health Services’ Family Planning program, from $111 million to $38 million for the 2012-13 biennium. That has caused at least 53 clinics to close and is affecting 147,000 of the 211,000 low-income women who had been served by the program, Realini said. [...]

Because the programs are designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, as well as catch cancer and other medical problems early when they are cheaper to manage, they save Medicaid millions of dollars, according to the coalition, which includes the Texas Medical Association, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Nurses Association and others.

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