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Governor Perry, WHP Has Been a Lifeline for My Family. Why Are You Eliminating It?

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Written by Rene Resendez for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

For all our coverage of the cuts to the Texas Women's Health Program, click here.

In Texas, a state where more than one-quarter of women are uninsured, the Women’s Health Program provides preventive health care, including birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings, to more than 130,000 low-income women each year. The federal government, which covers 90 percent of the cost of this program, has made clear to Texas — and to all 50 states — that a rule excluding a comprehensive women’s health care provider like Planned Parenthood restricts the rights of patients and will not be allowed in the Medicaid program. However, Governor Rick Perry and Texas lawmakers are moving forward to disallow Planned Parenthood from participating in the WHP, today.

On March 8, in the midst of a budget deficit, Gov. Perry said the state would reject the nine- to-one federal matching dollars and instead find money in the state budget to pay for the WHP, although it is not clear where the money will be found. Already in the past few months, budget cuts passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Perry cut the state’s family planning program by more than two-thirds, taking away health care from another 160,000 women a year.

Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of care within the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program. More than 40 percent of the women who received vital health care through the Texas Women’s Health Program rely on a Planned Parenthood health center for their preventive health care.

My name is Rene, and I am graduate student. I am also on the WHP. I've been a WHP patient for five years. My mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was my age, while pregnant with my sister -- this means I am at a 2-3 times increased risk for cervical cancer than other women. Because of my family history, I need to get a check-up every year.

My sister is a college student and also on the WHP. She needs contraception to keep her ovarian cysts under control. Because of the WHP and Planned Parenthood, we can focus on our studies instead of worrying about paying for contraception and cancer screenings.

Basic health insurance costs are out of reach for most college students since we work full- or part-time and keep up a full class load. Many of the women on the WHP are college students like myself, trying to better their lives with a higher education. We shouldn't have to choose between paying for a cancer screening and paying our bills while we're trying to further our education.

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