The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 and is a federal grant program that provides birth control and preventive health services for more than five million low-income people annually.
But for the second time in 2011, GOP lawmakers are trying to axe the program in an effort to cut government spending. What government officials don’t realize is that the funding for preventive birth services is a substantially lesser cost to the government than a Medicaid-funded birth.
According to a report by the Huffington Post, “House Republicans already cut funds for Title X by 5.5 percent during budget negotiations earlier this year, and health advocates say that even that small cut was devastating to the increasing number of unemployed and uninsured people who rely on the program for basic health and preventative care.”
The May 2010 Guttmacher Institute study reports that the cost of covering a Medicaid-funded birth -- including prenatal care, delivery, postpartum and infant care for a year -- was an estimated $12,613 in 2008.
Sure, that sounds like a lot, but compare that to the average cost of providing birth control and other contraceptive services to low-income women at Title X-funded clinics: a mere $257 per client per year.
Yes, it’s true that the government spends a whopping $300 million a year on the Title X program, but in 2008 alone, it saved the country $3.4 billion dollars compared the alternative.
The decision to axe Title X comes included in a bill for fiscal year 2012 that aims to “eliminate 79 wasteful programs.” The budget would also withdraw funds for Planned Parenthood, cut funding for teen pregnancy prevention initiatives and redirect it toward "abstinence only" education programs, and prevent abortions from being covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
"In 2009, 5.2 million patients sought care through this program, and we're expecting to see higher numbers for 2010 because of the recession," said Clare Coleman, President and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. "Congress doesn't get it. This battle over Title X will not save the government any money. It will cripple systems that are already scraping by on very little money and doing everything they can to help people in the recession."
A common misconception lies in people assuming Medicaid and Title X programs encompass the same population of people, when the two are actually separate services.
“Many low-income women who don't qualify for Medicaid still rely on Title X-funded health clinics for contraception, pap smears, diabetes screenings and other basic care,” based on a report by the Huffington Post.
When you go to the polls this fall, think about the cost savings and the benefits to society that the Title X program provide. We need help with the national deficit, but the Title X program may not likely be the best place to cut from.
House GOP Targeting Title X In Push To Axe Family Planning Programs. Huffington Post. Web. 7 Oct. 2011.
History of Title X. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.
Bailey Mosier is a freelance journalist living in Orlando, Florida. She received a Masters of Journalism from Arizona State University, played D-I golf, has been editor of a Scottsdale-based golf magazine and currently contributes to GolfChannel.com. She aims to live an active, healthy lifestyle full of sunshine and smiles.
Reviewed October 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith