Thursday, April 5, 2012

Family Planning & Public Health

Today’s guest blog is by Clare Coleman, president & CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. Coleman’s previous experience includes serving as president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State, and 12 years on Capitol Hill, ultimately serving as Chief of Staff for Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY).

Picture this: You’re a 22-year-old woman with a job you don’t love, a toddler you would die for, and no health insurance. You live paycheck to paycheck, and you always know, to the penny, how much cash you have until the end of the month. You’re rushing home on Route 9 to relieve your mom, who is helping you out with childcare, and the engine light on the car goes on. Your heart thuds in your chest and you feel a wave of panic. You know that you are just one emergency — one job change, one accident, one engine light — from everything falling apart. That’s the reality of the typical Title X patient.

Title X of the Public Health Service Act is the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning services in the United States. It is a public health success story. The Title X network provides nearly 2 million pap tests, over 2 million breast exams, over 6 million STD tests, and over 1 million confidential HIV tests each year. Providing millions of low-income and uninsured women and men with these and other educational, medical and social services for sexual health and well-being, Title X family planning is a critical component of ensuring a healthier America, today and for the future.

Despite the proven successes of family planning, ideologically motivated activists are going after Title X and other safety-net programs — often the only source of health care for the most vulnerable in our society. Congress threatened Title X with elimination twice in 2011, and the program has been cut by nearly $24 million — a 7.4 percent loss of funding — in less than two fiscal years and in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

A healthier America does begin today: join the movement and stand with family planning providers to champion their public health contributions and to ensure that the vulnerable populations served by these providers continue to receive quality preventive health care.

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