“The Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal that President Obama released this morning contains some very good and welcome news for women. We are delighted that the President is proposing a $50 million Paid Leave Fund for competitive grants to help states with start-up costs for paid leave programs, so that fewer people will have to make painful choices between providing care for their families and earning the paychecks they urgently need. The National Partnership has championed this measure for many years because we are convinced that this start-up money will help more states adopt the paid leave programs that workers need. Providing this kind of incentive is an important role for the federal government to play. We thank Sen. Chris Dodd (CT) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA) for their strong and unwavering support for paid leave.
We also are pleased that the Administration is proposing: additional resources to help the U.S. Department of Labor improve data collection related to the intersection of work and family responsibilities; enhanced enforcement of equal pay laws with funding to support it; more than $100 million for the Administration on Aging’s Caregiver Initiative to expand help to families and seniors so that caregivers can better manage their multiple responsibilities and seniors can live in the community for as long as possible; and significant new funds for civil rights enforcement. And the $1.6 billion increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program will make a huge difference for working families.
In addition, we are heartened that, in this tight budgetary climate, the President proposes to add $10 million to Title X family planning projects for total funding of $327.5 million, as well as significant increases to teen pregnancy prevention programs funded through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. These are critical efforts designed to protect the public’s health by giving individuals the information and basic services they need.
We are, however, disappointed that the President’s budget maintains numerous restrictions on funding for abortion services. These restrictions will harm women who rely on the government for health care, many of whom are among our most vulnerable citizens.
The President’s budget proposal also contains a $110 million increase to strengthen adoption and use of health information technology. This is the right time to make this investment, because over the next five years we are asking providers to adopt electronic medical records. The Administration also was wise to add $286 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for research that compares the effectiveness of different medical options, building on the expansion of this research begun under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These additional investments can help improve care for patients.
But discrete appropriations can only achieve so much. The nation needs comprehensive health reform. We urge Congress to finish its work to pass a health care reform bill that contains costs, ends discrimination in premiums, improves coordination and quality, and covers the uninsured. Without that, millions of people will continue to go without the health care they need, and no economic recovery can be sustained.