The Republicans have been threatening to defund women’s health and reproductive rights programs for years. Now they are in a position to make good on their threats.
Medicaid is the largest source of affordable health care in our country, and provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by states, according to federal requirements, and is funded jointly by states and the federal government. Under the Affordable Care Act, 31 states expanded Medicaid coverage, providing health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans.
The Republican bills to repeal the ACA significantly limited and restructured Medicaid funding in ways that would encourage states to reduce eligibility, curtail benefits and cut provider payments. Although those attempts failed and the ACA still stands, Congress did approve a budget resolution that paves the way for massive cuts to Medicaid. This 10/26/17 article from Vox explains why the budget resolution matters, and what it says about the GOP vision for health care in America.
In its 2018 budget, the House proposed a complete elimination of Title X, the federal grant program providing low-income families with family planning and related preventive health services. The Senate proposed continued funding at last year's level ($286M).
Budget cuts aren't the only way the GOP can hurt Title X. New rules for grants allow states to withhold Title X money from Planned Parenthood and other health providers that offer abortions.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the government’s major source of funding for biomedical and science research. Scientists rely on NIH grants to study cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, AIDS, HPV, tuberculosis, Zika, and more.
For just one example of how NIH-funded research has contributed to real advances in women’s health, consider this: the HPV vaccine--which helps prevent cervical cancer that can develop from some types of HPV strains--was developed by NIH-funded researchers. (And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers must provide this vaccine cost-free.)
Trump’s budget blueprint released in March proposed eliminating $6 billion from the NIH for biomedical research for the 2018 fiscal year and cutting $1.2 billion this fiscal year by holding back on current research grants. Demonstrating an astounding lack of understanding of how scientific research works, Trump proposed cuts to what he called the “indirect costs” of research. Of course, he didn’t explain what he meant, but auditors in the field believe the cuts will affect internet service, data storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Read this NYT article for more information.
Trump wants to eliminate the Fogarty International Center, which conducts global health research and partners up with international research institutions to collaborate on science.
Trump's budget blueprint also called to slash $300 million from PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The Trump administration has already made some devastating cuts to vital international programs. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the international agency focused on maternal health and family planning. UNFPA provides contraceptives to millions of women in low and middle income countries. Its motto is: “Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.”
Who could possibly be opposed to that?! Yep, you guessed it . . .
In an April 3, 2017 letter to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department stated that it will end its financial support of UNFPA. The State Department's decision was based on the erroneous claim that the UNFPA supports “coercive abortions” in China. The funding elimination will be devastating to the agency, since the United States was among its largest voluntary donors.