Women's Health and the Budget
Each year, the president, House of Representatives, and Senate lay out their priorities for the country when they release their annual budgets. These budgets reflect the values and vision of their respective branches and proposals to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year (FY), which runs from October 1 to September 30.
The budget proposals are intended to serve as guidelines for the legislators who actually allocate funding for federal programs through appropriations. This annual process funds much of the government, including women’s health programs.
The budget and appropriations process are intended to operate on separate but over-lapping tracks, with key dates and approximate deadlines. But in the past few years, the process hasn’t gone according to plan, and this year is no exception. With a government shutdown, constant bumping against the debt ceiling, and ongoing sequestration (across-the-board budget cuts for many federal programs) threatening even more draconian spending cuts, Congress reached a temporary, 11th-hour agreement that:
- funds the government until January 15, 2014;
- suspends the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014;
- requires income verification for consumers who will be eligible to receive subsidies to purchase health coverage through state Marketplaces under Obamacare (something already required under the law); and
- provides back-pay for federal workers who were furloughed during the 16-day government shutdown.
The congressional budget agreement also established a budget conference committee — a bipartisan group of members from the House and Senate that are charged with coming up with a plan to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year. This budget conference has until by December 13, 2013 to come up with a spending plan that will be acceptable to enough members of Congress to be passed into law before the temporary funding measure ends on January 15, 2014.
Even if the budget conference can reach an agreement and Congress passes the plan, it won’t solve all of the government’s budget problems. The current agreement simply kicks the can down the road, delaying other tough decisions, like addressing the debt ceiling, but also delaying funding decisions that have a direct impact on women’s health programs. Throughout these fights, Planned Parenthood will work to ensure that programs that expand access to health care (especially for women) are preserved.
The Affordable Care Act, Title X, and Medicaid are three major programs that Planned Parenthood is working to protect. We’re working to remind Congress that investing in family planning programs not only saves lives, it saves taxpayer money.
Here are some breakdowns of major budgetary issues affecting women’s health.
The Shutdown: The government was closed for 16 days, over Obamacare. Here’s our breakdown of why it happened and what it means for women’s health.
The Debt Ceiling: While Congress may have avoided defaulting on our nation’s debt for now by temporarily suspending the debt ceiling limit, they merely pushed off the problem. The fight over raising the debt ceiling will resume if an agreement on a higher limit isn’t set by February 7.
Women’s Health and the Sequester: In 2011, when Congress failed to create and pass a $1.2 trillion deficit deal, automatic across-the-board-cuts were triggered. Also known as sequestration, these draconian budget cuts are split 50-50 between defense and non-defense spending. Learn more.
The House Budget aka “The Ryan Budget”: With a budget that represents a dramatic rollback of access to women’s health, all in the name of balancing the budget, Paul Ryan and other members propose limits to women’s access to health care, attempting to save taxpayer money at women’s expense. Learn more.