Massive statewide women's health care coalition working closely with legislators

Texas Women's Healthcare Coalition members from 84 health-related organizations

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A team of 84 health care organizations from all over the state, including in San Antonio, are making a big impact on the laws passed in Texas regarding women's preventive health care.

In 2011, women's health care programs in Texas took a big hit.

"The legislators completely decimated the family planning programs. The budget cuts were severe," said Evelyn Delgado, a Texas Women's Healthcare Coalition leader from San Antonio.

"The number of women we were serving -- see how high it was? And then it went down, down, down with the budget cuts, and now we're gradually building back up," Delgado said while pointing to a graph.

The increase, in great part, was due to the Texas Women's Healthcare Coalition. The 84 medical, nonprofit and faith-based organizations involved work together for stronger preventive services.

"We have someone from the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, the Texas Medical Association, the Pediatric Society, Texans Care for Children," Delgado said.

Delgado said the enormous network of experts works daily to help legislators craft bills that will strengthen women's health care.

This legislative session, the coalition is consulting on 40 bills. Lawmakers use the group's expertise to ensure the bills make sense and will be effective.

Coalition members also testify at congressional hearings, explaining to committees why bills are necessary and answering questions about real-world application.

"I have testified many, many, many times since 2002. I am testifying at a hearing tomorrow in Austin," Delgado said.

A major bill this session would automatically transition new moms to followup care, so the women don't have to search for available services.

"For example, when you're either aged out of a program or you delivered a baby, and so you're not eligible for Pregnant Women's Medicaid anymore and we still want you to have services," Delgado said.

Other bills this session deal with access to contraception or preventing maternal mortality.  

The coalition also does community engagement events across Texas, asking women what services they need and providers what barriers they face when trying to serve women.

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