The Guttmacher Institute released a report today entitled “Leveraging the Potential of Medicaid and Title X in an Evolving Health Care System” that could bolster support for expansion of federal funding for family planning services. The report, (see PDF) found that currently 1.94 million unplanned pregnancies are prevented each year due to publicly funded family planning services. Without current funding, the report projects that unplanned pregnancy and abortion levels would be two-thirds higher and that, among poor women, unplanned pregnancies and abortions would be close to double current rates.
The study’s lead author Rachel Benson Gold said in a press release that “the national family planning program is smart government at its best… publicly funded family planning is basic health are that empowers disadvantaged women to decide for themselves when to become pregnant and how many children to have. It reduces recourse to abortion. And it saves significant amounts of taxpayer money.”
A provision in an earlier version of the economic stimulus package that would have removed the waiver requirement for states to expand family planning services under Medicaid was eliminated in January as a result of harsh public criticism of the provision from Republicans. In reference to the Medicaid waiver requirement, Gold said that “cutting through the red tape and doing away with the waiver is a crucial first step that should be a high priority for policymakers… our report recommends other policy changes to help the national family planning program maintain and increase its effectiveness. These include increased funding for the federal Title X program, which provides critical support to the national family planning provider infrastructure. Policymakers also need to take a more comprehensive look at how Medicaid and Title X can best complement and strengthen each other.”