Texas ranks near bottom in women’s health

With Texas’ sweet tea charm and southern hospitality, it’s hard to imagine women feeling unwelcome in the Lone Star state.

However, due to low medical and economic ratings, Texas is among one of the worst states for women.

WalletHub compared 50 states and the District of Columbia using 23 key indicators of living standards for women. Two categories that were measured were “Women’s Economic and Social Well-Being,” in which Texas ranked 45th, and “Women’s Health & Safety,” in which Texas ranked 35th.

One reason for Texas’ low rankings may be due to a couple of barriers that family planning has faced in recent years. In 2011 the Texas Legislature cut family planning programs by two-thirds.

Although legislators reinstated the funding in 2013, the state lost federal funding for family planning and preventive services for low-income women after it ousted Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program.

State lawmakers ousted Planned Parenthood for offering abortion services, however, this went against Medicaid regulations, which led to the Obama administration taking away funding. Texas lost hundred of millions of dollars in federal funding for family planning and women’s healthcare.

“The combination of those two things, and to a lesser degree a hundred things that have happened since then, have made it much harder for women to get services,” Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities said.

Pogue stated the country has seen declines in the number of women “enrolled in the Medicare program, the number of women who receive any healthcare through the program and specifically the number of women who get contraceptive through the program.”

“It’s critical that Texas teens and women are able to access preventive health care and take ownership of their reproductive health. While the state has done a good job of starting to rebuild women’s health programs after the cuts in 2011 and 2013, too many women continue to lack access to important services,” The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Interim CEO Molly Clayton said in an emailed response.

Pogue says Texas legislators have the intention of providing good healthcare to women in Texas, but the state has still not seen the service levels of 2011, before cuts were made.

The state has rebuilt its Medicaid program into what is now called Healthy Texas Women.

However, Planned Parenthood was the largest provider for family planning, uninsured and low-income women in the previous Medicaid program, and with other clinics having closed due to cuts in 2011, providers have not been able to fill in the gap.

“They’ve intended to build the same safety net, without Planned Parenthood, but even with money reinstated and some good intentions, we still appear to be far away from the number of women who were getting healthcare in 2011,” Pogue says.

Texas lawmakers have been using state money to supplement the Medicaid program, but in January, they appealed to the Trump administration to reinstate federal funding while continuing to leave out healthcare providers who have abortion services.

“With these federal funds, Texas women will have access to critical screening and treatment for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, which are leading contributors to maternal deaths in our state,” wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a letter to President Donald Trump.

“I think given multiple restraints, we still have a long way to go before we will have the same access as 2011,” Pogue said.

For a full report on WalletHub’s study, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women/10728/

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