Monday, December 17, 2012

Texas Now Serves Fewer Family Planning - Spending More On Less

In the last legislative session, Texas lawmakers cut the state's family planning budget by two-thirds, a loss of around $73.6 million over the next two years. The reason behind this, naturally, was that "family planning" is clearly a secret code word for "abortion."

"Of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything," Representative Wayne Christian told the Texas Tribune. "That's what family planning is supposed to be about."
Now, the Department of State Health Services has released new documents showing how the new, lean, highly efficient family planning budget is working for the state. Or not working. Those documents show that the program is now serving almost 128,000 fewer people, while spending more money per patient.

Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle was the first to lay out the new program's flaws . She points to a memo sent to the State Health Services Council by the Department of State Health Services. The memo, which we've posted below, shows that in 2012, the family planning budget served 75,160 people, at a cost of $236.54 each. Last year, before the cuts went into effect, the family planning money served 202,968 people, and cost $205.93 per patient.

In other words, the cost per patient has climbed by 15 percent, while the number of people served has nosedived by 63 percent. (A DSHS spokesperson told the Chronicle that's due to "infrastructure costs," and that the situation should "resolve itself over time.")

In the new funding structure, family planning money is going first to entities known as federally qualified healthcare centers, which are primary care community health clinics. There are 69 of them in Texas, according to DSHS, operating at around 300 sites.

But FQHCS aren't specifically set up to provide family planning services, and, as the Texas Observer points out they have struggled to cope with the influx of new patients. Outside of the new family planning money, many also continue to have serious budgetary issues of their own.

Read the the full story @ Dallas Observer

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