by Harold Pollack
The current stimulus package includes some funds for family planning services provided to Medicaid recipients. Republicans are predictably upset, and the Obama administration may decide to pull this provision. Lindsey Beyerstein has a nice little article over at the Washington Independent recounting the dispute.
Family planning is no pork barrel item. By any reasonable public health measure, these services are more important and cost-effective than many other health expenditures nobody is fighting about. Contraception is central to maternal and child health. Proper birth spacing and preconceptional planning are especially key for low-income Medicaid recipients. Preventing unintended pregnancies seems like a pretty good thing, too. One more thing: Contraception is a nontrivial expense for many women. Better Medicaid coverage for these services provides a timely implicit tax cut for needy women.
I appreciate the delicacy of the Administration's political calculations here. I don't understand why so many people are so screwed up in their thinking about this issue.
PS: Yeah, I should have noticed Nicholas's post right below mine. Sorry about that.