FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Women’s Leader Applauds Obama Budget Proposal for Advancing Health Reform, Anti-Discrimination Measures, But Warns that Changes to Key Health Programs Must Not Jeopardize Care for Most Vulnerable among Us
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — February 15, 2012—
"The FY2013 budget President Obama released this week funds some key priorities for women and working families. We are extremely pleased that the administration proposes to increase funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At a time when charges of workplace discrimination are at a record high, we need to ensure vigorous enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. This increase will help make that possible. We also are pleased that the administration asks for $5 million for a State Paid Family Leave Fund to offer competitive grants to states looking to establish paid leave programs, and that its budget supports an annual supplement to the monthly employment survey to capture data on contingent work, flexibility and work-family balance. We are, however, disappointed by the proposed cut to the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau — the only federal government unit dedicated exclusively to improving the status of wage-earning women. The nation would be better off if the Bureau had a more adequate budget.
The President’s budget avoids a sequester that would mean arbitrary and harmful cuts in programs important to women and families; Congress should make it a high priority to pass a budget that does the same. We are pleased that the administration includes a badly needed, if small, funding increase for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and that it continues the health care delivery system work and insurance market reforms contained in health reform. They are essential to providing the high-quality, well-coordinated, patient-centered care Americans urgently need.
We are, however, concerned that the administration’s proposed savings to Medicare and Medicaid could create unmanageable burdens — like a new home health copay and higher Part B deductible — for Medicare beneficiaries, and a new blended rate for Medicaid that would likely shift costs to the states, forcing them to cut the health services that low-income women and children rely on. And we are deeply disappointed that the administration would level-fund Title X family planning services, at a rate that falls far short of meeting the need.
We urge Congress to put aside partisan politics and use this budget proposal as a starting point, and to pass a budget that protects women, working families and those who rely on government for their health care."
The National Partnership is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting access to quality health care, fairness in the workplace, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.