POSTED: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 11:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 9:07am
AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — The federal government has awarded family planning dollars that used to go into state coffers to a coalition of Texas women's health providers instead.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' competitively bid Title X money — $6.5 million worth, for starters — will now be granted to the Austin-based Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, a consortium of statewide reproductive health providers including Planned Parenthood.
It's a blow to the Texas Department of State Health Services — which had also applied for the funding, and relied on it for years. Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the agency, said DSHS learned on Monday that its federal award would end in a few days.
"We have a long history with these dollars and have been dedicated to using them to maximize family planning services for women in Texas," she said. "Our hope is that the provider base remains healthy and that any transition is smooth for those who need services."
The federal government's decision to move Title X funding from the state agency to the women's health coalition comes after Republican state lawmakers went to great lengths during the 2011 legislative session to ensure that no Planned Parenthood clinics were receiving taxpayer dollars for reproductive health services. Lawmakers dramatically slashed their own family planning budget — which included federal matching dollars — to do it. They also began enforcing a rule that excluded Planned Parenthood from the joint state-federal Medicaid Women's Health Program, prompting the Obama administration to pull the $9-to-$1 federal match for the program.
Family planning services funded with Title X dollars including preventive health care, family planning counseling and birth control; abortion is not covered.