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Texas works to market health program without Planned Parenthood | Politics

AUSTIN — Look up proper now and also you may see one of many 36 pink billboards dotting Texas cities urging women to go to the state for his or her reproductive health wants.

But advertising the Healthy Texas Women Program isn’t the typical public health outreach marketing campaign — it’s a check for Texas legislators. The program marks the state’s second try at reimagining how to present reproductive health and household planning providers for low-income women without the involvement of Planned Parenthood or different organizations that present abortions at a few of their places. Some critics say not sufficient women are conscious of the program.

For the 2017 finances yr, the program has a mean enrollment of 141,000 women. That’s lower than the 176,577 who have been enrolled in a earlier model of the program in 2015. And it’s lower than the 207,041 who have been enrolled within the Medicaid Women’s Health Program in 2011, when teams like Planned Parenthood have been allowed to present providers. Meanwhile, the variety of women eligible for the program has grown.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, stated he requested his spouse, different women staffers in his workplace, neighbors and associates if that they had heard of the Healthy Texas Women Program and that they stated no. He is proposing giving the Health and Human Services Commission extra money to market the program.

“We need awareness,” Leach stated. “They’re doing a great job, but they need more resources.”

Under the program, low-income women ages 18 to 44 are eligible for providers together with being pregnant testing, STD testing, breast and cervical most cancers screenings, contraceptive counseling, postpartum melancholy screenings, in addition to assist with continual illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and excessive ldl cholesterol. Fifteen- to 17-year-olds are additionally eligible if a mother or father indicators them up. The program doesn’t supply abortion providers.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, chairwoman of the Texas House Women’s Health Caucus, stated “marketing is not the correct solution” for making the Healthy Texas Women Program profitable.

“Increased funding for marketing for Healthy Texas Women highlights the simple fact this program has not yet, and never will, replace Planned Parenthood,” Farrar stated, including that folks already know and belief Planned Parenthood.

A take a look at Healthy Texas Women’s $2.5 million advertising price range for the 2017 finances yr exhibits a $506,625 contract with Fleishman-Hillard to do design and content material improvement for outreach efforts. The Health and Human Services Commission spent one other $455,000 to get 176 bus advertisements and 36 billboards up statewide in 13 cities together with El Paso, Lubbock, Bryan College-Station, Dallas/Fort Worth, Beaumont and Houston.

Agency officers dropped $490,000 for 1,770 tv spots statewide and one other $437,500 for 7,721 radio bulletins. They’ve additionally spent $367,500 on digital pamphlets and factsheets to give to suppliers and sufferers. In 2016, the company spent $319,200 to redesign the web site with higher search engine marketing, up to date photographs, a screening software for candidates and a “find a doctor” search part.

Kelli Weldon, assistant press officer for the fee, stated in an e-mail that “the metrics for success” for the state’s outreach marketing campaign are based mostly on program enrollment and web site visitors. Between July 2016 and March 2017, the program web site had greater than 1 million web page views.

“We want women to know about the services available to them, so marketing is an important aspect of the HTW program,” Weldon stated. “Our outreach efforts highlight the strength of Texas women and the importance of proactively managing your health.”

Weldon stated the fee couldn’t say what number of women have acquired providers within the program as a result of that knowledge shouldn’t be full till a number of months after the date of service. The fee couldn’t present the variety of women who stated they enrolled within the Healthy Texas Women Program as a result of they noticed an commercial.

Leach stated Texas Health and Human Services Commission officers informed him they wanted extra money for outreach.

The fee has requested $265.7 million for the program and different household planning packages for the 2018-19 price range cycle. Weldon stated the fee didn’t request further cash for outreach efforts.

“We provided information about how we currently market the program and explained that we’ll follow direction from the Legislature regarding dollars that are appropriated to us for the program,” Weldon stated .

State businesses can’t foyer for extra funds outdoors of their formal company finances requests.

Lottery fund proposal

Leach proposed an modification to the state price range earlier this month that might take $10 million from the Texas Lottery Commission to give to the Healthy Texas Women Program for advertising. House members voted to undertake the modification, nevertheless it’s unclear if the measure will turn out to be regulation. House and Senate lawmakers should now reconcile their variations of the state price range.

Reproductive rights advocates say Texas women are nonetheless feeling the ripple results of state legislators’ makes an attempt to take over women’s health providers. They level to the state’s $73.6 million minimize to household planning packages in 2011. The state took bolder steps in 2013 by forgoing participation within the Medicaid Women’s Health Program to create the Texas Women’s Health Program to exclude abortion suppliers.

Joe Pojman, government director for Texas Alliance for Life, stated “low-income women deserve better care than Planned Parenthood is willing or able to provide.” He stated he discovered greater than 150 suppliers inside 20 miles of Planned Parenthood’s South Austin Health Center through the use of the Healthy Texas Women Program’s on-line search device.

“We don’t think agencies that promote abortion or are synonymous with abortion should be ambassadors for the state’s women’s health programs,” Pojman stated. “That’s not consistent with the state’s mission to promote childbirth as an alternative to abortion.”

Thousands of Texas women have additionally misplaced providers and should not have discovered a brand new physician after dozens of women’s health clinics closed after the Texas legislature handed House Bill 2 in 2013. The regulation required Texas amenities performing abortions to have minimal sizes for rooms and doorways; pipelines for anesthesia; and hospital admitting privileges inside 30 miles of the clinic. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the regulation final summer time, however many abortion suppliers haven’t been in a position to reopen.

Whole Woman’s Health, the plaintiff within the excessive courtroom’s case, just lately reopened its Austin clinic.

Yvonne Gutierrez, government director for Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, stated she has seen the Healthy Texas Women Program billboards, however up to now she stated the state has not confirmed its strategy is efficient. She stated the state has failed to create a program that would match the robustness of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

“They’ve been trying this for several years, but every time they’ve gone through an iteration of this they’ve not been able to make it work,” Gutierrez stated. “Why is this taking you so long if it was supposed to be so easy to do this without Planned Parenthood?”

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