Sixty-nine Members of Congress joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) in a request to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Supercommittee) to protect women's health. The Members of Congress penned a letter to the Supercommittee stating the importance of protecting what many consider one of the important public health programs in our nation: Title X Family Planning. The Supercommittee has been tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over a ten-year period by November 23 of this year, putting the most vulnerable segments of our country under the greatest risk of bearing the brunt of most of these cuts.
"Sadly, the precedent has already been set," said Congresswoman Lee. "Just two weeks ago, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS released its draft FY 2012 funding bill which includes a total elimination of the Title X family planning program and marks the continuation of a slow march towards elimination of all preventative services for women. We are here to fight that march."
Title X services are proven-effective programs; they prevent nearly one million unintended pregnancies each year, almost half of which would otherwise end in abortion. For every public dollar invested in family planning, nearly $4 is saved in Medicaid-related costs. Study after study has shown that eliminating funding for the Title X family planning program will result in millions of women across the country losing access to basic primary and preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment.
"In 2009 alone, Title X health centers provided 2.2 million Pap tests, over 2.3 million breast exams, 5.9 million STI tests, and nearly 1 million confidential HIV tests," said Lee. "These preventative services save lives and at the end of the day, they save money spent by taxpayers on curative care. Any cost savings derived from phasing out or eliminating the Title X program would be outweighed by tragic and costly consequences in the lives of American women."
October 13, 2011
Dear Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:
As you proceed in fulfilling your charge to issue a formal recommendation on how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, we write to encourage you to protect the Title X program, a vital part of the public health safety net -- providing family planning and other preventive health services to millions of poor and low-income Americans.
Title X of the Federal Public Health Service Act is the only federally funded, dedicated family planning program for the low-income and uninsured. For the over 5 million patients served at 4,500 health centers across the country, Title X provides critical preventive health services such as cancer screenings and confidential sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing and treatment. In 2009, Title X health centers provided 2.2 million Pap tests, over 2.3 million breast exams, 5.9 million STI tests, and nearly 1 million confidential HIV tests. In addition, the contraceptive services provided at Title X clinics allow women and men to plan for their futures, helping to prevent nearly one million unintended pregnancies each year.
These centers, like many in the safety net, are under extreme pressure. Due to the struggling economy, Title X health centers saw an increase of over 130,000 patients in 2009, the largest increase in 10 years. Health centers are seeing a growing number of patients who cannot afford their care, and a growing number of patients report struggling with the cost of prescription birth control.
In light of your mission, we highlight the fact that Title X is a cost-effective program. Every dollar invested in Title X saves nearly four dollars in Medicaid-related costs. In just one year, Title X health centers saved the state and federal governments $3.4 billion. This equates to over $30 billion in savings over a ten year period. It is fiscally responsible to support and strengthen this preventive health program.
For 40 years, Title X has proven itself one of the nation's public health success stories, but Title X-funded health centers cannot continue to meet the health care needs of our communities without adequate funding. We urge you to support access to care for millions of underserved Americans and recognize the longtime success of Title X by protecting this effective program.
Jesse Jackson, Jr.