Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Legislative Alert from AABC

Passing along a legislative alert from the American Association of Birth Centers:

Women and Children Lose in Budget Cuts: We need your help!

It always is a shock to me that Women and Children's Programs are at the top of Federal and State budget cuts. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed large cuts in health services to women, infants, and children (H.R.1):

Hundreds of millions from WIC (Women, Infants, and Children):
WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Hundreds of millions from Maternal and Child Health Block Grants:
This Block Grant referred to as Title V is a public health program that reaches across economic lines to improve the health of all mothers and children, train providers and support services for children with special healthcare needs, offers newborn screening and genetic services, lead poisoning and injury prevention, and health and safety promotion in child care settings.

More than a billion from Community Health Centers:
Community Health Centers are key partners for many Birth Centers. They exist to fill the void in underserved communities and vulnerable populations by assuring access to comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary care services.

This federal quandary is shared by many states: Demand for health services is growing and states are cutting Medicaid budgets for the poor and disabled. Medicaid accounts for approximately 25 percent of state spending when federal matching dollars are included according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

PLEASE DO NOT SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING. WOMAN AND CHILDREN NEED OUR HELP NOW. This is not a Republican, Democrat, or Independent position. This is the moral and ethical action to take now.
1. Call your U.S. Senators -( U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121).
Ask to speak to your Senator's health legislative aide.
2. Call your State Governor, Senators and Representatives
3. Tell them you are NOT in support of cuts to women and children's health! The deficit can be reduced by cutting waste in other areas.
4. Please let Karen Fennell (AABC's lobbyist) know of your contacts with legislators.
Tell her who you talked with and any comments or additional information requested. Call Karen at 301-830-3910; Send email to

Suggested Talking Points

WIC Program: This is one of the most efficient programs to improve child nutrition. The program gives expectant mothers with very small children important education on how to eat healthy during their pregnancy and how to feed their children healthy meals. And it provides them with coupons to incentivize them to purchase the best foods for their children. Research shows that without this intervention the nutritional intake of these children would be higher in fats, salts and sugars, according to a recent U.S. Food and Nutrition Services study. Instead if spending $1,400 a month in extra medical care for an obese child, for just $41 per month this program shifts these mothers and children into healthy eating patterns, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clearly, the WIC approach is a useful and relatively cheap way to stem the rising tide of childhood obesity and a healthy pregnancy.

Maternal and Child Health Block Program: The program has been cut by 30%. This program is the safety-net care for women and children. The block grant pays for child immunizations and prenatal care for tens of thousands women and children. It is obvious that without access to immunizations more dollars will have to be spent to care for kids sick with easily preventable illnesses. Reducing access to prenatal care is both life-threatening and costly. A preemie baby's health costs are 10 times higher than a full-term, healthy-weight child, according to the March of Dimes. It makes no sense to cut a program that has a proven track record of delivering health to babies and driving down America's health care costs.

Community Health Centers: Funding for community health centers will be cut in half. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who was a cosponsor of the legislation responding to President George W. Bush's call to expand funding for these centers in 2008, says that "since 2001, additional funding has allowed health centers in more than 750 communities nationwide to provide care to about four million new patients. These centers provide affordable and quality care to at-risk Americans who otherwise might have to might have to do without." As state by the Center for American Progress, "No health care costs will be avoided by cutting this $1 billion out of the budget because the absence of care doesn't stop you from getting sick. It simply means you get sicker and you turn up at the emergency room or hospitals when your illness has progressed to the point that you care needs are exorbitantly expensive.

State Medicaid Cuts: Most States have budget proposals to cut funding for Medicaid. Talk to staff about what you know best - health and costs implications of a lack of prenatal and newborn care. A useful resource is the article Ten Myths About Medicaid published by The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN

Chair, Legislative Committee

American Association of Birth Centers

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