Dispute impacts women's health care in Texas

(CBS News) CORSICANA, Texas - The federal government Thursday blocked millions of dollars in Medicaid funding that was supposed to help poor women in Texas. That came after the state cut funding for Planned Parenthood. It's a growing dispute that could leave thousands of Texas women without access to health care. CBS News correspondent Anna Werner spoke with one of them.

Holly Andrews said the Planned Parenthood clinic in her hometown of Corsicana is her only option for free checkups. The 44-year-old mother of two said breast cancer runs in her family.

"If I did not have the women's healthcare program, I would not have my yearly mammogram," she said.

"Because you don't have insurance?" asked Werner.

"I don't have insurance."

She's worried about a recent Texas decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from that federal program, which provides free preventive services like breast and cervical cancer screenings to low-income women

"What should we do? Where do we go?" asked Andrews.

Around the state, other women are protesting the state's decision. Planned Parenthood serves 50,000 women in the program. The federal government said denying money to the organization -- a qualified provider under Medicaid rules -- is illegal. So it has pulled $35 million in federal funding.

Governor Rick Perry defends the state's decision. "We don't want Planned Parenthood and their affiliates, who are in the abortion business, engaged in this process," he said. "This is pretty straight up."

"But under federal law the money's not allowed to go to abortions under this program, at all," Werner pointed out.

"Well, we would rather be very sure of it," said Perry.

Governor Perry said the state will find money to replace the lost federal dollars. But Jose Camacho, who heads the Texas Association of Community Health Clinics, wonders where that money will come from.

"If Planned Parenthood is cut out of this picture, can your centers pick up the slack?" Werner asked.

"We can pick up some of it, but there's no possible way that we can expand that quickly to take that many additional patients," said Camacho.

"You believe other providers will be able to pick up the slack?" Werner asked Perry.

"Absolutely," he said.

"What if they can't?"

"They can."

"But what if they can't?" asked Werner.

"I'm not in the game of 'what-ifs,'" said Perry.

For patients like Holly Andrews, 'What if?' also means 'What now?': She doesn't know of any other clinic in her town where she can get medical services for free.

  • Anna Werner

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