Four years after they first reconfigured state-subsidized health services for low-income women, Texas health officials are at it again as they consider how to consolidate two of the state’s main women’s health programs.
Following a directive from the Legislature, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Wednesday that it would combine two women’s health programs to create the “Healthy Texas Women” program on July 1. The new initiative will be a consolidation of the Texas Women’s Health Program and the Expanded Primary Health Care Program, which provide health screenings and contraception to poor women in the state.
Under the new program, women between the ages of 15 and 44 who have an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line will qualify for these services, extending eligibility to minors of child-bearing ages who did not previously qualify for these services. (The previous minimum age to qualify was 18.) Health officials noted that minors would need parental consent to receive any care.
Lawmakers, who said the consolidation would improve efficiency, endorsed the move by combining the two programs’ funding in the 2016-17 state budget.
At a Wednesday meeting of the Women’s Health Advisory Committee — a panel of health professionals created by the Legislature to oversee the consolidation — HHSC Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor recognized that the timeline to launch the merged program was “extremely quick,” he but added that Texas would soon be in a position to be a “model for other states.”
This story has been edited for length.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/09/23/state-womens-health-programs-consolidate-july/.