May 14, 2019
Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, HHS Executive Commissioner
AUSTIN – Hundreds of Texas leaders, employees, state health workers and families showcased their support of Texas women today by wearing pink to commemorate National Women’s Health Week.
State health officials joined forces to call on all Texans to wear pink to celebrate women, highlight women’s health programs and continue the conversation about improving women’s health across the board.
“We want women to live their best lives,” said Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, the first woman to be appointed executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services. “This week serves as a reminder for women to make themselves a priority and take steps toward better physical and mental health. Together we can be role models for health and continue on our trajectory of improving the lives of all Texans.”
“As we recognize Women’s Health Week, I am proud to report that funding for women's health is at an all-time high, and we are serving more women than ever before,” said Sen. Jane Nelson. “We will continue to make sure that women’s health services are available in communities across the state.”
Dr. Phillips and Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, put out the call last week to prompt more awareness of women’s health issues. Texas Health and Human Services, which includes DSHS, manages an array of services and initiatives to help Texas women live healthier lives and build strong families.
National Women’s Health Week, May 12 to 18, is a nationally recognized week that serves as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits that improve lives.
State health officials urge women to stay up to date on preventive screenings and be aware of the spectrum of health resources that may be available to them.
Texas HHS launched a week of activities in support of Women’s Health Week and is encouraging the use of the #ISupportTexasWomen hashtag to highlight local efforts along with the #NWHW national hashtag. HHS employees statewide are wearing pink and showcasing their support through signage, photos and fliers.
The agency administers an array of programs that directly support Texas women including:
- Texas WIC — serves approximately 707,000 Texas women, infants and children each month.
- Healthy Texas Women — served more than 170,000 Texas women in 2018.
- Family Planning Program — served more than 100,000 Texas women in 2018.
- Breast and Cervical Cancer Services — served more than 33,000 Texas women in 2018.
- Medicaid for Pregnant Women — served more than 277,000 Texas women in 2018.
- Substance Use Disorder Services — served more than 10,000 women and families in 2018.
More information is available at hhs.texas.gov. Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about programs and services that support women’s health in Texas.
Texas HHS offers several women’s health programs, services and special initiatives to improve the health of Texas women. Highlights include:
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, is a nutrition program for pregnant, breastfeeding women and families with children younger than 5. Texas WIC aims to help improve the diets of infants and children as well as pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women by providing monthly healthy food packages, nutrition counseling, education and breastfeeding support.
Healthy Texas Women
The Healthy Texas Women program provides family planning services and other women’s health services that contribute to preconception care and better birth outcomes. The program provides a wide variety of women’s health and core family planning services, including contraception, cancer screenings and pregnancy testing.
Family Planning Program
The Family Planning Program provides family planning services to women and men at little to no cost. The program offers services to help clients determine the number and spacing of their children, reduce unintended pregnancies, and improve general health, along with future pregnancy and birth outcomes.
Breast and Cervical Cancer Services
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program helps fund clinics across the state to give quality, low-cost and accessible breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to women. Eligible clients receive these services for free. Regular screening tests aim to detect pre-cancer or cancers early, when treatment is likely to work best.
Medicaid for Pregnant Women
Texas extends Medicaid eligibility to pregnant women who have household incomes that meet the eligibility requirements. The program serves pregnant women and offers a variety of services specifically for women who are pregnant, including prenatal visits, prescription prenatal vitamins, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.
Postpartum Depression Screening
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program now cover a postpartum depression screening for the mother of an enrolled infant, regardless of whether the mother has Medicaid, CHIP, or other coverage. The screening may occur during a covered well-child visit before the infant’s first birthday. HHSC also provides an array of mental health and substance use services for all eligible Texans. Services include resource referrals, crisis counseling and other special assistance.
Title V Maternal and Child Health
The Title V Maternal and Child Health Fee for Service Program is available to low-income women, children and adolescents who aren’t eligible for other health care plans that provide the same services. Services are provided to clients who may be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP or CHIP Perinatal while awaiting an eligibility determination.
Better Birth Outcomes
Better Birth Outcomes is a collaborative effort between HHSC and the Texas Department of State Health Services to improve access to women’s preventive, interconception, prenatal, and perinatal healthcare. The collaboration focuses on meeting a client’s health care needs that impact her ability to have a healthy pregnancy. There are currently more than 30 Better Birth Outcomes initiatives, including projects to increase access to contraception and services, and improve maternal health and safety.
DSHS’ TexasAIM program has enlisted more than 200 hospitals, 92% of the birthing hospitals in the state, in an effort to reduce maternal mortality and severe pregnancy complications. Through the program, DSHS provides hospitals with tools and expertise and brings them together to learn from each other’s experience as they recognize, diagnose and treat causes of death and complication such as maternal hemorrhage and opioid use.
Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force
The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force is a 17-member committee legislatively charged with reviewing pregnancy-related deaths and studying trends in pregnancy-related deaths and complications. The task force provides recommendations to the Legislature and recently established a subcommittee on maternal health disparities to identify and recommend ways to eliminate causes of racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes.
Preconception Peer Education
The Preconception Peer Education program establishes partnerships with local health departments and colleges to train young men and women on the importance of preconception health so they can, in turn, educate their peers. Initially focused on historically black colleges and universities, the program is currently expanding to include additional campuses in Texas.
Someday Starts Now
Someday Starts Now is a DSHS public awareness campaign focused on preconception and interconception health. It promotes healthy behaviors before pregnancy among women and men to prevent chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking that can result in pregnancy-related deaths and complications.
Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite
The Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite program promotes and facilitates breastfeeding in the workplace. DSHS recognized 2,642 designated worksites in 2018, an increase of more than 1,000 over the previous four years.
Texas Ten Step Program
Over 85% of Texas mothers initiate breastfeeding. To improve the support they receive from health care providers after delivery, the Texas Ten Step Program helps birthing facilities implement the WHO/UNICEF’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. When in place, these practices create environments that support informed infant feeding choices and improve health outcomes for mothers and infants. Currently, the Texas Ten Step Program is in place in 65% of the 229 birth hospitals in Texas.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
The agency’s Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome projects aim to reduce the incidence, costs and severity of the syndrome by increasing services, education and coordination with medical communities to engage pregnant and postpartum women to improve birth outcomes.
Substance Use Services
Intervention: Pregnant, Postpartum Intervention programs help pregnant, postpartum and parenting women reduce the effects of substance use and misuse by providing case management, home visiting and parenting education to improve birth outcomes, parenting skills, and increase access to community resources.
Treatment: Specialized Female Services programs address substance use disorder through trauma-informed and evidence-based counseling services and parenting education. Additionally, women and children’s residential treatment programs provide substance use disorder treatment services for women and their children while living in a licensed residential facility.