CBO: ‘Additional Births’ Is Cost of Partially Defunding Abortion-Providing Planned Parenthood

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 20, 2017 | 6:13 PM EDT

Ultrasound of an unborn child (Wikimedia Commons)

(CNSNews.com) - The Congressional Budget Office says that language included in the House Republican bill to replace Obamacare that would partially withhold federal funding from abortion-providing Planned Parenthood for one year would cause “additional births.”

“To the extent that there would be reductions in access to care under the legislation, they would affect services that help women avert pregnancies," says the CBO cost estimate of the American Health Care Act.

“CBO estimates that the additional births stemming from the reduced access under the legislation would add to federal spending for Medicaid,” says the estimate.

The specific relevant section of the Obamacare replacement bill calls for suspending--for one year only--payments from certain mandatory federal spending programs to what the bill calls a “prohibited entity.”

A summary of the bill produced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee says that the federal programs that will be prevented from funding a “prohibited entity” during the one-year suspension include Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grants, and Social Services Block Grants.

The bill defines a “prohibited entity” as a non-profit group that is “primarily engaged in family planning services,” “provides for abortions” and whose Medicaid receipts in fiscal 2014 “exceeded $350,000,000.”

Non-profit family planning groups that do not provide abortions or did not receive more than $350 million in Medicaid money in fiscal 2014 will not be subject to the one-year suspension of these federal funds.

Also, during the one-year suspension of federal funding from the mandatory spending programs cited, a “prohibited entity” will still be allowed to get federal funding from the federal Title X family planning program, which is a “discretionary” federal spending program.

According to CBO’s analysis, there is only one non-profit family planning group that qualifies for the partial one-year federal funding suspension because it both “provides abortions” and got more than $350 million from Medicaid in fiscal 2014. That group is Planned Parenthood.

“CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be effected,” says CBO’s March 13, 2017 cost estimate.

Two years ago, in its cost estimate for a 3-page bill that would have explicitly defunded Planned Parenthood—“The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015”—the CBO summarized its estimate of where Planned Parenthood gets its federal funding.

“Based on information from a variety of government and private sources, CBO estimates that Planned Parenthood receives approximately $450 million annually in federal funds,” said that CBO cost estimate. “Of that amount, roughly $390 million is provided through the Medicaid program and less than $1 million is provided through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Medicare program combined. The remaining amount, approximately $60 million, is provided through the National Family Planning Program, which operates under Title X of the Public Health Service Act (commonly referred to as Title X). Funding for that latter program is subject to appropriation.”

The language in the Obamacare replacement bill effecting Planned Parenthood does not suspend the money Planned Parenthood gets through Title X because the bill is being processed as a “reconciliation” bill that can pass the Senate with a simple majority vote but that can only address spending in mandatory government programs, not discretionary ones.

Language preventing Planned Parenthood from getting Title X money could be included in an appropriations bill, such as the continuing resolutions Congress has used in recent years to fund much of the government.

In its cost estimate of the American Health Care Act, CBO says that partially defunding Planned Parenthood for one year, as AHCA would do, “would affect services that help women avert pregnancies,” that it would result in “additional births” and that “the number of births in the Medicaid program would increase by several thousand, increasing direct spending for Medicaid.”

CNSNews.com asked CBO on Monday afternoon by phone and email whether the “additional births” in the one year that Planned Parenthood would be denied some of its federal funding would result from the conception of babies whose mothers otherwise would have had contraception? Or from abortions Planned Parenthood would not be able provide? Or from a combination of the two?

CBO did not immediately respond.

CBO’s analysis of the impact of defunding Planned Parenthood—including its estimate that there will be additional births—is on page 23 of its cost estimate. It says:

 

This estimate of the effect of temporarily and partially defunding Planned Parenthood appears on page 23 of the CBO's cost estimate of the American Health Care Act.

“CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be affected. Most federal funds received by such entities come from payments for services provided to enrollees in states’ Medicaid programs. CBO estimates that the prohibition would reduce direct spending by $178 million in 2017 and by $234 million over the 2017-2026 period. Those savings would be partially offset by increased spending for other Medicaid services, as discussed below.

“To the extent that there would be reductions in access to care under the legislation, they would affect services that help women avert pregnancies. The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations. CBO projects that about 15 percent of those people would lose access to care.

“The government would incur some costs for Medicaid beneficiaries currently served by affected entities because the costs of about 45 percent of all births are paid for by the Medicaid program. CBO estimates that the additional births stemming from the reduced access under the legislation would add to federal spending for Medicaid. In addition, some of those children would themselves qualify for Medicaid and possibly for other federal programs. By CBO’s estimates, in the one-year period in which federal funds for Planned Parenthood would be prohibited under the legislation, the number of births in the Medicaid program would increase by several thousand, increasing direct spending for Medicaid by $21 million in 2017 and by $77 million over the 2017-2026 period. Overall, with those costs netted against the savings estimated above, implementing the provision would reduce direct spending by $156 million over the 2017-2026 period, CBO estimates.”