May 23rd, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …
At a time when New Jersey doesn’t have a penny to spare, the state is leaving money on the table – perhaps millions of dollars a year in federal funds that could provide family planning services to poor, uninsured women.
Not only has Governor Christie refused to continue the program that provides state grants to family planning clinics across the state (he vetoed a $7.5 million appropriation sponsored by Sen. Weinberg), the state has withdrawn its application for a Medicaid waiver that would have provided a 9-to-1 federal match of state funds that paid family planning expenses for women at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To put it in simpler terms, under the waiver known as the Family Planning State Option the federal government would provide $9 million for every $1 million that New Jersey spent.
According to estimates from the widely-respected Guttmacher Institute, the Family Planning State Option would save New Jersey $3 million in the first year alone. After the first year, it would:
• Save the state $45 million every year.
• Provide basic medical care to over 80,000 people every year, including not just family planning but other preventive care such as cancer screenings.
• Help thousands of low income women who want to avoid pregnancy do just that – averting 4,000 abortions and 6,000 births every year.
See the full report here.
Twenty-eight states currently receive matching funds and all have seen substantial cost savings. According to estimates by the National Academy of Health Safety Policy, the savings over five years range from $75 million in Arkansas to more than $2 billion in California.
See the full report here.
The governor has said his opposition to the family planning clinic grants has nothing to do with politics, but is based in his desire to be a responsible fiscal steward of the state’s scarce resources.
He should live up to that standard.
Clearly, the numbers show the tremendous benefit that accrues by funding these grants. In addition to providing poor and working women broad and consistent access to family planning services, the Medicaid waiver allows the state to receive the 9-to-1 federal match in funding.
The fiscally responsible thing to do would be to invest a little of the state’s resources in family planning and reap the rewards of increased federal funding as well as cost savings to deal with avoidable pregnancies.
To do anything else seems to be a waste of time and money.