Standing up for Critical Health Care Funding
Title X is not just the right thing to do, it’s a good investment
You would think, after the health care debacle last week, the other side would have gotten the message: the American people did not send us here to take away their health care.
In fact, when I think about health care in Colorado, some part of that is Obamacare, but a lot of it has nothing to do with the ACA. Coloradans are unhappy with the way our health care system works. They want more access than they have. And the House bill went exactly in the wrong direction from where they are interested in going.
I’d like to work with Republicans and Democrats to solve that.
But here we are once again.
The resolution before us would risk funding for vital primary care, and preventive and family planning services for more than 4 million Americans across our country — especially women and those in rural communities.
Since 1970, this body has supported Title X funding to expand access to affordable health care for low-income men and women.
We did that because we understood that it wasn’t just the right thing to do; we recognized that it was a good investment.
Each dollar invested in publicly funded family planning programs saved the government over $7 in Medicaid-related costs. The other side rails against Medicaid spending — in fact they tried to cut it by $838 billion last week — but if they succeed on this vote today, Medicaid spending will almost certainly rise.
We supported Title X funding through Republican majorities and Democratic majorities. Now, a narrow majority is trying to ram this measure through. You know this isn’t supported by a consensus of Americans when Vice President Pence had to drive over here from the White House to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Just yesterday, the Vice President was at a White House forum on Women’s Empowerment. It begs the question — did he learn anything at the forum?
It’s easy for senators to vote against health care for struggling Americans. I sometimes wonder if the reason for that is we’re not affected by this vote. That’s doubly true when 51 senators, overwhelmingly men, vote to cut health care for millions of low-income women.
The vote today has real costs for Colorado. If this measure passes, it will threaten to cut funding for Title X health centers serving over 52,000 men, women, and teens each year.
It will also risk funding for the over 20 Planned Parenthood clinics throughout Colorado that provide health care services to more than 86,000 men, women, and teens.
Planned Parenthood is a critical part of Colorado’s health care system, providing essential services in a quarter of the state’s counties.
This support is especially vital for our rural areas. Two weeks ago, I visited Alamosa and Durango, Colorado, where these health centers are some of the only places women can turn to for preventive care and family planning services.
We shouldn’t do this. Pediatricians are against it. Family physicians are against it. Nurses are against it. But on the other side we have a narrow majority voting to strip funding for vital primary and preventive care including breast cancer screenings and HIV testing.
I would invite anyone voting against this measure, including the Vice President, to come to Alamosa, to come to Durango, and to see what these health centers do for our communities.
I invite them to come and meet the people they help. The lives they change.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this measure. It will hurt many of our fellow Americans. It will hurt women and working people. And it should not pass.
Remarks delivered on the Senate floor on March 30, 2017, regarding a resolution that would slash funding for Title X.