“In supporting essential family planning programs, paid family and medical leave, Medicaid expansion, Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, and other critical measures, President Obama today prioritized the issues and initiatives that matter most to America’s women and families. This is the kind of budget than can help make our nation more healthy, fair and family friendly by putting quality, affordable health care and economic security within reach for more women and families.
Instead of dismissing the Obama budget proposal, as we have seen congressional leaders do this week in a disappointing show of partisanship, Congress should use it as the starting point for the FY2017 budget process.
The president’s proposal to increase funding for the Title X Family Planning Program — which offers essential reproductive and preventive health care services to more than four million women and men, most of whom are low income — to $300 million stands in stark contrast to the shameful congressional efforts to defund Title X and deny funds to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of these services. We are disappointed, however, that the Obama budget proposal did not strike the Hyde Amendment and other restrictions on abortion coverage from the budget. These harmful restrictions deny women care and disproportionately affect low-income and young women and women of color.
We enthusiastically support the administration’s continuing and powerful commitment to advancing paid family and medical leave. By proposing to dedicate more than $2 billion to help up to five states establish paid leave programs — such as those working well in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — and funding competitive grants to help states and localities study paid leave, this budget would add to the administration’s commendable investments in state innovation and further pave the way for the national paid leave program the country needs. It is also great to see support for legislation to allow federal employees to use up to six weeks of paid administrative leave when a child is born, adopted or placed in foster care. This, too, adds to the Obama administration’s many efforts to lead by example when it comes to ensuring employees can meet their job and family needs without sacrificing their financial stability and futures.
We applaud the administration’s continuing commitment to fair wages and workplaces, and to combating discrimination, as demonstrated by the proposal to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The call for long overdue increases in the federal and tipped minimum wage rates, and the additional funding to enforce minimum wage standards and protect workers at risk for wage theft, are also welcome. These measures promote basic fairness and living wages, and the country will benefit tremendously if Congress approves them.
We commend the president’s proposal for full funding to implement the ACA, which is the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation. We support the proposal to encourage states that have not yet done so to expand Medicaid coverage by having the federal government cover the full cost of expansion for the first three years, regardless of when a state expands its Medicaid program. This will bring us closer to realizing the full promise of the ACA.
We are encouraged by the president’s continued commitment to transforming our health care payment and delivery systems. The proposals for new provider payment models and improvements to how care is delivered build on the work to implement the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) as well as the multi-stakeholder work of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network. Taken together, the investments in this budget proposal to reform Medicare physician payments and MACRA implementation should pay off in better care, better health outcomes and lower costs. Improvements in payment and care delivery will help us achieve Medicare savings without shifting costs to seniors. In addition, we commend the administration for resisting efforts to defund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and instead proposing an increase of $41.2 million, which would bring funding for this critical agency to $469.7 million next year.
We applaud, as well, the president’s proposed increase to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights budget to help enforce section 1557 of the ACA, which prohibits discrimination in federal health programs and activities.
The Obama budget proposal correctly notes that health information exchange is essential for a transformed health care delivery system. We strongly support the call for a 36 percent increase in the budget for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which is badly needed to improve health information technology (IT) interoperability and increase access to health care information for patients, their family caregivers and doctors. This is essential for safer and more person-centered care that enables people to engage effectively in their health and health care. We also support the proposal to integrate behavioral health into the meaningful use of health IT in 2018 — a critical step for improving health for all individuals.
President Obama released a strong budget proposal this morning that reflects the right priorities for the nation’s women and families. The country will be better off if Congress uses it as the basis for its FY2017 budget process.”
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.