Cecile Richards

To exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving any state funds, Gov. Rick Perry says Texas will stop accepting federal money for the Women’s Health Program.

The federal government contributes 90 percent of the funding for the program for low-income women. The governor said he will replace that money — about $30 million — with existing state funds.

According to Kelly Hart, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, although the rule goes into effect today, PPNT was told it will be reimbursed through April 30.

“So call and schedule to get your annual now while you can,” Hart said.

Planned Parenthood national President Cecile Richards was in Dallas last weekend for a protest against the cuts.

The program affected, the Women’s Health Program, is for women 18–45 who are not on Medicaid, but would be if they become pregnant. It covers about 130,000 women a year in Texas.

Hart said there would be a huge cost to the state if these women become pregnant and that Texas already spends more than $2 billion a year on Medicaid births.

In addition, the program covers sexually transmitted diseases. She said that the wait at Parkland for an appointment for treatment of an STD is already several months and that this cut will put an extra burden on the hospital and cause an increase in the spread of STDs that remain untreated.

She said these cuts are on top of $73 million in cuts to the family planning budget in the last legislative session.

Perry argued that Planned Parenthood offices throughout the state represent only 2 percent of providers participating in the Women’s Health Program, but Hart said most of the providers see very few women in the program. She said that PPNT saw 7,000 patients last year. Planned Parenthood offices throughout Texas saw about 40 percent of the women in the program.

The cuts that are in the news only affects this one program. Hart said the vast majority of PPNT patients are employed and pay out of pocket. She said most doctors charge $400 for a full annual exam and that PPNT’s charges for the same exam are in the $100 range.

“In addition we have a patient assistance fund,” she said. But with these cuts, this fund will be strained. “We hate to turn anyone away.”