National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness warned today it would be “catastrophic” for the nation’s women, working families and its most vulnerable citizens if lawmakers were to pass the continuing resolution issued by the Republican House Appropriations Committee leaders Friday evening. Ness is one of the nation’s top health and work/family experts.
“This proposal reflects misplaced priorities and misguided efforts to balance the budget on the backs of those who are least able to bear that burden,” Ness said. “The draconian proposal to eliminate the Title X women’s health program is extremist ideology trumping good public policy, and it is absolutely indefensible. Slashing job training programs now, when millions of Americans are out of work, would be unconscionable. Cutting the funding that supports health care for people with the lowest incomes and family caregivers is mean-spirited and unnecessary. These proposals would put the health of women and children at grave risk, cause working families to suffer, and imperil our fragile economic recovery. In many cases, they would cost the nation more over the long-term. America is better than this.”
“This is not what the nation wants,” Ness continued. “Those who generated this proposal are badly out of touch with the needs and priorities of America’s families. We will do everything we can to convince lawmakers to reject this budget. We can be economically responsible without cutting the programs that are a lifeline for those in need and are essential for our nation’s long-term economic security.”
Among the proposals Ness singled out for criticism:
- Eliminating Title X, which provides life-saving health services for low-income women, including HIV testing, cancer screening, blood-pressure testing, post-partum counseling and contraceptive services for more than five million low-income women. Two-thirds of women who use this program are uninsured. The contraceptive services and supplies provided at Title X clinics are cost-effective and prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies every year.
- Cutting by $50 million Maternal and Child Health programs that serve 35 million women, babies and children with special health care needs.
- Cutting nearly $2 billion from job training programs. Nearly one in ten Americans are searching for work — including more than six million women — and, for many, unemployment benefits have run out. From March 2009 to March 2010, 8.9 million people participated in job training programs, about 19 million received career counseling or resume assistance, and more than 641,000 were placed in new jobs through the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. These cuts would deny unemployed Americans the chance to learn new skills and find new work.
- Eliminating funding from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative which helps reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among youth.
- Putting the health of women and families at risk and eliminating vital mechanisms for getting health care costs under control by cutting funding for key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
- Slashing $1 billion from community health centers, ravaging the safety net services that millions of families rely on.
- Cutting millions for effective, common-sense initiatives to keep women and families from potentially costly illnesses. This proposal would end funding for local and community health programs that offer cancer screenings and obesity and diabetes education services. It would block an additional investment of $750 million in proven, effective ways to keep Americans healthier and reduce health care spending.
- Eliminating funding for the Administration on Aging’s chronic disease self-management program. This would jeopardize the initiative that helps Americans with chronic health conditions learn to manage their health, live independently and avoid costly hospitalizations.
- Eliminating funding for programs that support older adults and their family caregivers, including initiatives that help them stay in their homes as they age and avoid costly nursing home care.
- Endangering programs that prevent wage theft and protect workers’ rights; protect against sex discrimination, pay discrimination and pregnancy discrimination; and protect the jobs of workers who take time off to recover from serious illness or care for an ill family member or newborn or newly adopted baby. Every year, hundreds of thousands of women are denied wages they earned, denied their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and subjected to harassment and discrimination on the job. Strong enforcement is essential so workers can provide for their families.
“This proposal should not even be considered a starting point for negotiations,” Ness concluded. “We need a responsible budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and for Fiscal Year 2012 that prioritizes our health and economic security, and saves money over the long term rather than slashing programs now in ways that will cost more later.”