Senate budget rider 56 has a hearing tomorrow. If passed, it will redirect the Department of State Health Services's funds for family planning services in 2010 and 2011 to county health departments and private and not-for-profit contractors that provide "primary and preventative care" in addition to family planning services. This would effectively defund Planned Parenthood (97% of whose services in Texas are family planning and preventative care, but they are not a primary care provider).
Since Senator Deuell's 2005 budget rider diverting some of the state's funds for family planning services to Federally Qualified Health Centers went into effect, the number of clients served by the state's family planning program has dropped by nearly half. Because Texas does not have enough Federally Qualified Health Centers using that funding, millions of dollars are being returned each year while less than 20% of women in need of reproductive services are actually being served.
Add that to the number of low-income and uninsured women whose primary source of health care is the services at family planning clinics (which include screenings for cervical and breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and anemia) and this budget rider could leave swaths of the state with few, if any, providers of family planning services. And up to 60% of those services' users consider them their primary health care.
I wrote my state Senator asking him to oppose this rider. It will probably pass, but I wanted to register my opposition to it with his office. And the next time I have a little spare money, I'll throw it at Planned Parenthood of North Texas.