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Just a day or two after launching a politically-motivated "investigation" of Planned Parenthood, House leadership released a draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that would effectively eliminate federally-funded family planning programs.

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The House GOP is nothing if not determined to show just how little regard they have for the health and well-being of women in this country.

Just a day or two after launching a politically-motivated "investigation" of Planned Parenthood--demanding audits with taxpayer funds of programs that have already been audited with taxpayer funds--the House leadership released a draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that is a retread of attacks on women and the working poor. The bill would:

  • Prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood through programs such as Medicaid which provides low-income women with preventive  health care, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer  screenings,  annual exams, and STD testing and treatment;
  • Eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning   Program, which provides access to birth control, cancer screenings,  and  other family planning services to five million low-income women  each  year, and through which women can avoid unintended pregnancies that would otherwise lead to abortion;
  • Ban insurance   coverage of abortion in the new health exchanges under the Affordable   Care Act — taking away a common health benefit that most women currently have;
  • Prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (the health  care  reform law passed last year by Congress), and eliminate the new benefits that include insurance coverage  of  women’s preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and   birth control, with no additional co-pays;
  • Cut the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by $64.79   million — from $ 104.79 million to $40 million — stipulating that $20   million of that money must be used for grants to provide ineffective,   abstinence-only education; and
  • put in place a sweeping new refusal provision that undermines patients’ access to quality health care, effectively imposing a religious ideology test on access to essential care.

According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the draft bill would prohibit any funding under the  bill  from  going to any Planned Parenthood affiliate unless the  organization   promises not to perform abortions with non-federal funds:

"Remarkably, said the Congresswoman, "these particular health care providers—and the patients  they  serve—would  be denied federal funding for any purpose unless they   agree to stop  providing a lawful medical service using funds from   patients and other  non-federal sources.  The main effect would probably   be to prohibit  Medicaid patients from choosing to receive services   such as  contraception and cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood   clinics."

This is of course not the first time that the House has sought to do these things, the motto being if at first you don't succeed in gutting women's health care, try, try again.

Earlier this year Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made explicitly clear that they were willing to shut down the government over funding for family planning and took the country to the brink until President Obama finally called their hand.  Several efforts have been made to pass bans on abortion coverage in health reform--prohibiting women from paying for policies with their own money.  The desire of the GOP and Tea Parties to eliminate evidence-based approaches to anything, including teen pregnancy prevention has long been clear.  And right-wing politicians have made no secret of their lack of respect for gender-specific health needs, such as birth control, mammograms, and maternity care. 

As outlined in a detailed analysis of the bill from the office of Congresswoman Delauro, the proposed appropriations bill would, among other things, also:

  • Overturn 75 years of practice by removing the protections   of the National Labor Relations Act from workers in any firm that falls   within the SBA’s definition of “small business”—a definition broad   enough to encompass companies with a thousand employees in some cases.

  • Prohibit local public radio  stations from using  any funds they receive from the Corporation for  Public Broadcasting to  acquire programming from one particular provider  that has evidently been  singled out for the Republican majority’s  displeasure—National Public  Radio.

  • Block Education Department rules  designed  to protect students and taxpayers from those for-profit  colleges with  the very worst records as far as student debt loads and  defaults.

  • Prohibit use of funds to implement almost any part of the Affordable   Care Act.  (It makes exceptions for certain Medicare payment  regulations  and a few provisions relating to drug costs under  Medicaid.)

  • Reduce Pell Grant Assistance to students who are working while going to school.

  • Make large cuts to the Centers for Disease Control.


“There are at least 50 million people in this country without health   coverage," DeLauro said, "and yet all that we hear from the Republican majority on this subject is “no”.  The bill’s prohibition would prevent use of funds to   implement reforms like prohibiting insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions for children, allowing young adults to stay on   their parents’ policies, and placing restrictions on lifetime and annual   coverage limits, to give just a few examples. It would also deny funds  to implement the interim “risk pool” coverage for uninsured people  with  health problems and to continue putting in place the systems  needed for  full health reform implementation in 2014."

The bill, according to DeLauro, contains at least  40 brand new legislative  provisions and  riders, many of them highly  controversial, and most  dealing with  complicated subjects well outside  the expertise of the  Appropriations  Committee from which it originates. It "injects  a whole host of new, contentious  legislative issues into the  process," DeLauro noted, "most of them quite extraneous to the  task at hand of setting  funding levels for federal agencies and  programs for the upcoming  fiscal year."

Public health and rights advocates and providers of essential health care are outraged at this newest attempt to compromise the lives of women throughout the country.

“This budget not only guts effective programs that keep women   and families healthy, it will make women and families worse off   economically, at a time when they are already struggling,” said Cecile   Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“We believe in protecting a woman’s ability to make personal,  private  decisions with her doctor, and Speaker Boehner’s budget violates  these  fundamental American values in several ways,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“The  Boehner  Budget would defund Title X, the nation’s family-planning program,  which serves millions of Americans each year.  It also would effectively  end private insurance coverage of abortion in  state health-insurance  exchanges. How will taking away women’s freedom  and privacy lead to the  job creation he promised voters?”

“This budget is further evidence that Republican leaders have   no new ideas and are merely recycling failed attacks that undermine   women’s health,” said Richards. “Eliminating funding for the Title X   family planning program and prohibiting Planned Parenthood from   providing preventive health care through federal programs 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.”

"At a time when Americans desperately want and need Congress to   focus on fixing our economy and creating jobs, House Republican leaders   are instead continuing their campaign to take away preventive health   care and affordable birth control from millions of women,” said   Richards.

A bill is so laden with policy riders, restrictions and elimination of key program guarantees that efforts to pass an FY 2012 spending bill will be fraught with conflict, especially since it differs so greatly from the version passed by the Senate.

"If these documents represent  the position [House leadership] intends to take into negotiations  with the Senate," said DeLauro, "it looks like we’re  in for a long, difficult process.   After a year of contentious budget  debates, radical proposals from the  new majority, and multiple threats  of government shutdowns and even  defaults, there had been hope that  we’d be able to put all that behind  us for a while and complete action  on fiscal year 2012 appropriations in  a reasonably timely and  cooperative manner based on the spending levels  agreed to in the Budget  Control Act enacted last month.  Judging from  these proposals, though,  the Republican majority doesn’t seem to be on  board for that goal."

Bottom line: If you are not a white male Republican or Tea-Party follower, you can stick it.

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