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MEDICAID FAMILY PLANNING PROVISION EXPANDS HEALTH CARE FOR WOMEN

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) expressed disappointment that a measure to invest in health care and allow states to expand health care access to more women was removed from the economic stimulus.

“We are disappointed that the Medicaid Family Planning State Option, a commonsense provision to expand basic health care to millions of women, including many who have lost their jobs in the current economic downturn, was a victim of misleading attacks and partisan politics, and dropped from the economic stimulus bill,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards.

As ThinkProgress points out, “… conservatives are distorting and simplifying the facts…. this measure would not only aid states, but also provide preventative, cost-saving health care to help low-income women support their families and keep working.”

“The American people have rejected the divisive politics of the past. They want commonsense solutions that invest in health care and get us out of this economic downturn. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option is commonsense policy that does just that. We applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Henry Waxman for including this provision in the economic stimulus and are disappointed that it was removed,” said Richards. “We are confident that we can work with the administration and leaders on the Hill to ensure passage of this commonsense proposal and extend basic health care to millions more women.”

The Medicaid Family Planning State Option would simply allow states to expand their Medicaid family planning services, including cancer screenings and other preventive care, to more women in need, without having to go through the burdensome Medicaid waiver process. Despite the proven success of Medicaid family planning expansions, the cumbersome waiver application and renewal process delay implementation and waste state resources.

The Medicaid Family Planning State Option would have a significant impact on women’s health and is vital to expanding care to the millions of women who are losing either their jobs or their health insurance in this economic downturn. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this provision would provide coverage to 2.3 million low-income women by 2014. A study by the Guttmacher Institute finds that this flexible option would help 500,000 women avoid unplanned pregnancy.

In media appearances over the weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner wrongly claimed that the provision would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The fact is that this provision would save money. The CBO estimates that the Medicaid Family Planning State Option would save the federal government $700 million over 10 years, freeing up money to go toward other pressing state and national priorities during these tough economic times.

Currently 27 states have sought and received federal waivers to extend coverage for family planning services. Each of these states has demonstrated that doing so expands health care coverage to more women while resulting in significant cost savings.

Every public dollar spent to provide family planning services generates $4.02 in Medicaid savings in the following year alone. These cost savings could help states avoid additional cuts to their health safety-net programs, and allow them to use the savings on other pressing needs.

Independent evaluations of the current family planning expansions have significant estimated cost savings — for instance,  $75 million in Arkansas over five years and $214 million in Alabama over three years.

According to RH Reality Check, the Medicaid Family Planning State Option “could save Rep. Boehner's state of Ohio $1.4 million in 2009 — money that could make a real difference in a hard-hit state that is struggling with significant budget shortfalls.”

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Contacts

Tait Sye or Brannon Jordan, 202-973-4882

Published: 01.27.09

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