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Austin

Women’s health Medicaid providers move forward despite uncertainty

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TWC News: Women’s health Medicaid providers move forward despite uncertainty
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Starting this summer, providers who remain in the Texas Women's Health Program will rely solely on the state for funding.

The federal government is set to pull the $34 million a year it pays to cover the program.

Officials with Texas’ Health and Human Services Department have until next month to find where the $34 million will come from, and to present their plan to the federal government.

A spokesperson with the state made it clear to YNN on the phone Wednesday that they will make sure a plan is in place.

In the meantime, area clinics are left to wonder.

Linda Hicks, a nurse practitioner at CommUnityCare's North Austin clinic, knows the importance of the services she helps provide.

“A woman’s reproductive life is probably the most personal thing she has, but it’s the thing she needs to have the most control over," Hicks said.

Just last week, the Obama administration said it will pull the program's funding all together because of Texas' efforts to keep money from clinics affiliated with abortion providers.

The state has vowed to find the money to continue offering the free reproductive health services, like birth control, pregnancy tests and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, for patients below the poverty level.

“It’s that period of not knowing for sure,” Leslee Froehlich with CommUnityCare said. “We’re hoping the government is going to do their part and continue to fund them."

The people behind CommUnityCare are reassuring patients and encouraging them to keep making appointments like normal.

"It’s stressful to some of our patients. We have had patients calling, ‘I’m on Medicaid. I don’t know what this is going to mean. Am I going to still be able to get the services that I need?’” Froehlich said.

So CommUnityCare forges on, while government officials in Washington and Austin work it out.

“For it to be in the political arena, I think is a very sad statement,” Froehlich said.

CommUnityCare is among one of the lucky providers, because it has several funding sources, including the Travis County Central Health District.

A rep says when they saw state and federal funds come under attack last year, they began expanding the list of billable services in the event the money disappeared.

The Obama administration has committed to pay for the Women's Health Program through May.

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