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The Ryan Budget

Remember Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his budgets?  He was the vice presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, and despite their failed run for the presidency he remains the House Budget Committee Chair.  From this position, he continues to be a major player in the budget debates in Congress.  Now he’s a member of this budget conference committee that is trying to reach agreement on a budget deal by December 16.

Paul Ryan’s last budget proposal was anything but a “Path to Prosperity” — it was an extreme proposal that slashed important programs, negatively impacting the health of women and their families. It is clear Ryan and some of his fellow Republicans don’t value women’s access to family planning or the more than 700 Planned Parenthood health centers that have served one in five women in the U.S. at least once during her lifetime.  Here are the three worst ways Paul Ryan and other anti-women’s health members try to limit women’s access to health care, disguising it as saving taxpayer money. 

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TOP THREE WAYS THE RYAN BUDGET SACRIFICES WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE ACCESS

1.    Repeal the Affordable Care Act, Reducing Women’s Access to Health Care

Ryan wants to repeal this groundbreaking health care law, which is the single biggest advancement in women’s health in a generation.  Even though the government shut down over repealing Obamacare, Ryan still voted against the budget deal because he opposes this law.  In his budget plan, under “Fairness Restored,” Ryan wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and go back to the days when women faced discrimination when trying to access health care. Sounds more like unfairness restored.

Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. The ACA has already provided access to preventive services like lifesaving cancer screenings, Pap tests, and birth control, with no additional copays to 27 million women.  The ACA also protects women from being denied insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, prevents insurance companies from discriminating against women and charging higher premiums, guarantees women’s access to ob/gyns, and expands coverage for 3.1 million young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26, and that’s just the beginning. But that’s not the way Ryan sees it. Learn more about how Obamacare Works.

2. Slash Medicaid, a Lifeline for Families Across the Country

Right now 60 million Americans, including 21 million low-income women, rely on Medicaid for basic health care. For women, Medicaid means the difference between getting cancer screenings and birth control or going without. In fact, one in 10 women of reproductive age relies on Medicaid for her health care needs. But Paul Ryan and other out-of-touch politicians want to take away this essential coverage from millions of people.

Ryan wants to block grant Medicaid — giving states lump sums of grant money for health care — instead of keeping a flexible program where federal funding remains available year-round to make sure that people who need Medicaid can access it. Block granting Medicaid would fundamentally change the program, and many women would lose access to these important benefits. Learn more about Medicaid.

But that’s not all Ryan’s proposal would do — it would also take away insurance coverage for millions of people. When Ryan proposed block granting Medicaid last year, experts estimated that 14 to 21 million people would lose their Medicaid coverage by 2022. Ironically, Ryan proposes the dismantling of Medicaid in the chapter titled “Safety Net Strengthened.” Leaving more Americans uninsured isn’t quite what most Americans think of when talking about restoring a safety net.

3. Cuts to Non-Defense Spending Could Reduce Title X Family Planning Funding

Efforts to reduce the deficit have caused these non-defense programs to receive nearly 100 percent of the spending cuts. So what does this mean for women’s health? Important family planning programs like Title X — which provide affordable access to care to more than five million people at nearly 4,400 health centers each year — could face steep cuts.

In every state, women and men rely on Title X for basic primary and preventive health care. Planned Parenthood is a proud partner of the Title X program, and Planned Parenthood health centers provide care to 1.8 million women served by the Title X program — more than one-third of the program’s clients.

The government has already implemented across the board cuts and Title X lost $15 million.

Ryan’s budget places the burden of deficit reduction on cutting programs like Title X. The reality is that Title X saves women’s lives and saves taxpayers money. Ryan’s budget conveniently ignores how investing in Title X and publicly funded family planning is an investment in America’s health care system. For every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning programs, the government saves nearly $6 in Medicaid-related costs. This is an ideological agenda wrapped in bad policy.

Republican leadership's priorities are clear: advance their own ideological agenda and let women’s health fall by the wayside. We stand with most Americans, who believe that promoting women’s health is an important value and should be protected.

Will Paul Ryan get his way with a budget that represents a dramatic rollback of access to women’s health, all in the name of balancing the budget?  With everything on the table, it’s more important than ever to make our voices heard to preserve access to critical women’s health services.