Texas Disables Problem-Riddled Health Provider Website But Still Has No Answers on Access to Care
Last week, the Texas Health And Human Services Commission disabled the problem-riddled online provider search function on its Texas Women's Health Program (TWHP) website, which has, for months, directed low-income women seeking pap smears and contraceptives to call endoscopy clinics and pediatric offices which do not offer these services.
Now, when women log on to TexasWomensHealth.org in search of a doctor, they're directed to call a 1-800 number so that an operator can help them find one, a method that one HHSC employee testified in court has been completely effective.
"We've been able to find every single woman who calls a provider," testified Michelle Harper, a policy advisor at the HHSC, during a January 11th hearing regarding Planned Parenthood's most recent lawsuit filed over its exclusion from the new Texas Women's Health Program. Texas state court judge Stephen Yelonosky ruled that day that, while he believes injury is being done to Texans who are no longer able to receive WHP care from Planned Parenthood, he could not grant the provider a temporary injunction that would allow it to remain in the program because of the low likelihood that Planned Parenthood would succeed at trial in the future.
Harper testified that she did not know how many women had called the hotline seeking references, only that she knew that providers had been found for all of the callers. She testified that the failings of the online search function -- which turned up, among others, doctors that did not provide family planning services, ambulatory surgery centers, and doctors not even enrolled to be WHP providers in the first place -- were due to the fact that the HHSC "ended up being over-inclusive."