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Planned Parenthood and National Women's Law Center Applaud Governors for Urging Inclusion of Medicaid Family Planning State Option in Health Care Reform

July 22, 2009

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Contact: Adrienne Ammerman, National Women's Law Center, 202-588-5180 Brannon Jordan, Planned Parenthood, 202-973-4882

PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND NATIONAL WOMEN'S LAW CENTER APPLAUD GOVERNORS FOR URGING INCLUSION OF MEDICAID FAMILY PLANNING STATE OPTION IN HEALTH CARE REFORM Governors Cite Positive Impact of Family Planning on Women's Health

(Washington, DC) Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) today applauded 16 governors for submitting a letter to congressional leaders urging them to support the inclusion of the Medicaid Family Planning State Option in health care reform. This critical provision provides basic preventive health care, including breast and cervical cancer screenings and contraception, to millions of women and is currently in President Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget.

"We applaud Governor Ted Strickland for championing this letter and the governors who joined him in expressing support for the Medicaid Family Planning State Option," said Cecile Richards, PPFA president. "We know firsthand the lifesaving care these programs provide to women and families across the country. And governors recognize that ensuring the expansion of Medicaid family planning is vital to any comprehensive health care reform effort."

"Especially during these difficult economic times, far too many families are forced to sacrifice health care to help make ends meet," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of NWLC. "As the governors recognize, foregoing basic health care can have serious health and economic consequences for women and their families. This provision will make essential family planning and basic health care services more accessible and affordable to millions of women."

Governor Strickland (D-Ohio) championed the sign-on letter and was joined by Governors Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Chet Culver (D-Iowa), John deJongh (D-Virgin Islands), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Christine Gregoire (D-WA), Timothy Kaine (D-VA), Theodore Kulongoski (D-OR), Martin O'Malley (D-MD), Jack Markell (D-DE), David Paterson (D-NY), Beverly Perdue (NC), Pat Quinn (D-IL), Bill Richardson (D-NM) and Bill Ritter, Jr. (D-CO).

Currently, 27 states have sought and received federal waivers to expand eligibility for family planning services. States have repeatedly demonstrated that expanding health care coverage for women in this way also results in significant cost savings. Expanding the Medicaid Family Planning State Option would allow states to expand Medicaid coverage for family planning services, without a waiver, to those who don't otherwise qualify for full Medicaid benefits. These cost savings could help states avoid additional cuts to critical health programs and allow them to use the savings for other pressing needs.

The Medicaid Family Planning State Option will also save federal funds. The Congressional Budget Office determined that the Medicaid Family Planning State Option saves the federal government $200 million over five years and $700 million over 10 years. Voters strongly support efforts to make contraception more accessible and affordable as part of a comprehensive approach to reproductive health issues. According to public opinion research conducted in 2007 by Hart Research on behalf of the NWLC and PPFA, an overwhelming majority (73 percent) strongly favor making it easier for women at all income levels to obtain contraceptives.

"The Medicaid Family Planning State Option is a proven approach to expanding coverage for basic women's health care, while at the same time generating significant cost savings for states and the federal government," said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. "In states like Ohio, this new option will improve women's access to quality, affordable preventive health care, such as breast and cervical cancer screenings."

PPFA and the NWLC join these state governors in urging Congress to take swift action to pass this commonsense measure as part of health care reform legislation.

Planned Parenthood is working to ensure that women's health is a priority in health care reform and that any reform effort includes two important pieces: access to comprehensive reproductive health care and access to essential community providers within the network. This will ensure that basic preventive care, such as contraception, Pap tests, and other cancer screenings, are covered and that women are able to continue to access trusted health care providers in the communities where they live.

NWLC's project, Reform Matters: Making Real Progress for Women and Health Care (http://www.nwlc.org/reformmatters), started in early 2008, empowers women to be vocal advocates in the fight for progressive health care reform. As an active member of several leading progressive health care coalitions, including Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) and the Herndon Alliance, NWLC brings a unique perspective to the table by advocating for the specific needs of women.