On July 24, 2007, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007, or CHAMP. In addition to expanding essential health care coverage for children, the bill also would help individuals and families by providing them with resources to plan when they will have children.
The Medicaid Family Planning State Option is an important provision in the CHAMP bill because it would give states the flexibility to cover family planning services to the same extent that they cover prenatal care and delivery services. States would maintain the power to determine exactly which family planning services would be covered.
Currently, all states must cover pregnancy-related care for women with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, and many states cover such services even for women at higher income levels. In addition, 19 states have received waivers from the federal government to provide contraceptive services and supplies and other basic reproductive health care to people whose incomes would qualify them to receive pregnancy-related care in their state.
Several states have saved at least $15 million each year as a result of these waivers. However, the waiver and renewal processes are burdensome, time consuming, and resource-intensive. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option would allow all states to participate in this extremely successful program without having to go through the cumbersome waiver process.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that if every state expanded eligibility for family planning services, they could serve more than 3 million additional women while saving approximately $1.5 billion each year. They also could prevent an estimated 500,000 unintended pregnancies. Given that nearly half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion, this measure could reduce the number of abortions by about 250,000.
This one simple change in the law would eliminate bureaucracy, give states flexibility, save money, and put a significant dent in the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion. It seems clear that everyone wins with this common sense, common ground provision.