Health Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Lead To Thousands Of Births

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the Senate's replacement healthcare bill earlier today, and, if passed, the bill could have serious consequences for women who use Planned Parenthood.

This bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare). A previous version of the bill, then known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed in the House in early May.

The bill, which would strip Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood clinics for one year, would lead to thousands of births, according to the CBO:

By CBO's estimates, during the one-year period in which the funding prohibition would apply, the number of births in the Medicaid program would increase by several thousand, increasing direct spending for the program by $79 million over the 2017-2026 period.

The bill, which was crafted behind closed doors, is already on shaky ground with moderate and conservative Republicans, and Senators on both sides of the aisle have questioned the bill.

Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have both publicly supported continuing to fund Planned Parenthood, and they could vote "no" on the bill due to this provision. Surprisingly, conservative Nevada Senator Dean Heller announced that he would "protect Planned Parenthood." This provision could be the death knell of the controversial bill.

This isn't the first time Senator Mitch McConnell has tried to defund Planned Parenthood. The national nonprofit has been at the center of the abortion rights debate for years due to the fact that it provides abortion services, and while that may add to the increase in births if PP is defunded, the reproductive care nonprofit reports that abortions only make up 3 percent of its services.

Contraception, meanwhile, accounted for 34 percent of the services Planned Parenthood clinics provided in 2014, including reversible contraception, emergency contraception, vasectomies, and sterilization procedures.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would, the CBO report predicts, increase costs to the federal government in the long-run. The Washington Post reports that unplanned pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers $21 billion every year  -- and public insurance plans like Medicaid pay for an estimated 68 percent of unplanned births.

If the Senate bill passes, not only will Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funds be stripped for a year, but the clinic would lose $22 billion in funding over the next decade, making it essentially impossible for those on Medicaid or other public insurance programs to access services -- including cancer screenings, preventive care, and prenatal care.

The CBO's report also states that 22 million would lose insurance by 2026 -- only 1 million less than the House version of the bill -- and that there would be deep cuts to Medicaid.