“The Obama administration sent a strong and welcome signal about its unwavering commitment to building a more healthy, fair and family friendly nation in the Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) budget proposal released yesterday. By prioritizing access to paid family and medical leave, fair pay, contraception, and initiatives that will improve the quality and affordability of health care, the administration has signaled its support for a robust, pro-women and pro-families agenda that addresses some of the most daunting challenges facing working families across the country.
The administration’s powerful commitment to increasing access to paid family and medical leave demonstrates that it has its finger on the pulse of America’s families. Providing more than $2 billion to assist states that want to launch their own paid leave programs and an additional $35 million to help with infrastructure would allow more states to advance paid leave and pave the way for a much-needed national program. In addition, allowing federal employees to use up to six week of paid sick leave in advance of accrual as a substitute for paid family leave and calling on Congress to pass legislation that would give federal employees up to six weeks of paid leave for the arrival of a new child would help make the federal government a model, family friendly employer.
The country will benefit, as well, if Congress adopts the parts of the president’s budget proposal that prioritize fair wages, including the call for higher wages nationwide and the increase in the federal minimum wage, the increase in penalties against employers who violate fair wage laws, and the funding to strengthen efforts to combat pay discrimination through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Fair pay is essential to the financial stability of women and families, and the benefits of providing living wages and eliminating discrimination ripple throughout our economy.
Obama’s budget proposal would also improve women’s health. The additional funding he proposes for vital Title X family planning services is a significant step forward, as is the end to funding for abstinence-only sexuality education programs, which have been proven ineffective. We commend the administration for excluding the ban that prevents the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised revenues for abortion services, but are disappointed that the administration missed an opportunity to lift other harmful restrictions on abortion care.
Congress simply must put partisanship aside – and the country’s interests first – by heeding the president’s call to fully fund implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which is the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation.
And the president’s proposal for a 50-percent increase in the budget for the Office of the National Coordinator is badly needed, especially since the new interoperability roadmap can do so much to make health care in this country more patient- and family-centered.
We are pleased that the Obama administration’s budget proposal supports efforts to reform the health care delivery system – through new provider payment models and improvements to how care is delivered – so more people will be able to count on getting the right care at the right time and at the right cost. And the president got it right by funding multi-stakeholder processes to ensure that we have good measures of health care quality. Together, these proposals build on the administration’s announcement last week of goals and timetables for Medicare payment and delivery system reform, which was welcomed by stakeholders of all kinds. Congress needs to strengthen Medicare by more closely aligning payment value and quality, and by encouraging health care providers to deliver better coordinated, more patient- and family-centered care. The investments the president proposes to reform Medicare physician payments would pay off in better care and lower costs. Savings to Medicare should be derived from improvements to the delivery system and not from cost-shifting to seniors; we have reservations about any reforms that would raise costs for seniors through higher co-pays, premiums and deductibles.
We urge every member of Congress to support the president’s budget proposal, which would help families in their districts and states. It reflects a fundamental American value: that everyone deserves good health and a fair shot at success and economic prosperity. The budget Congress passes for FY2016 must advance those goals.”