Stimulus Finalized Without Medicaid Family Planning Expansion

Emily Douglas

The economic stimulus package has been finalized, and it does not include the straightforward provision allowing states to extend Medicaid coverage for family planning services to low-income residents without first obtaining a time-consuming waiver from the federal government.

Well, the other shoe has dropped.  The economic stimulus package has been finalized, and it does not include the straightforward provision allowing states to extend Medicaid coverage for family planning services to low-income residents without first obtaining a time-consuming waiver from the federal government.  That’s all the provision would have done — and yet Republican members of Congress, and soon President Obama, acted like the money would go to showering condoms down upon elementary school children. 

Women are losing their jobs; with their jobs, they say goodbye to their health insurance; with that, their ability to afford contraception.  As they downsize and plan how to cover costs in the future, doesn’t it seem like a good idea for them to know how many kids they’re including in the household budget?

The Congressional Budget Office concluded that spending on Medicaid would have a salutary effect on the economy — a CBO report found the House version of the stimulus would have a "noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years, with much of the mandatory spending for Medicaid and other programs likely to occur in the next 19 to 20 months," CQ Today reported.  If we want investment in family planning to pay off economically, let’s do it now.

"The Medicaid Family
Planning State Option fully belonged in the economic recovery package,"
said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. "The
Republican leadership opposition to the provision shows how out of
touch they are with what it takes to ensure the economic survival of
working women and their families."

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Sure, the Republicans are out-of-touch — but what about our President?  This economic stimulus plan was meant to be broad-reaching and address crisis needs.  The White House and the Democratic majority in Congress have now deemed family planning to be outside of the stimulus plan’s broach reach and not a crisis need.  When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the inclusion, her talking points weren’t burnished, and no other elected officials lined up behind her.  How can that help a pro-family planning Congress and the administration later, when they finally get around to trying to pass other bills that expand contraceptive access?

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