Senate majority rejects positive amendment that would have expanded federal family planning program, training for women’s health providers
(PRESS RELEASE) Last night the U.S. Senate approved a bill designed to change how Medicare reimburses physicians that includes harmful abortion coverage restrictions—despite laudable efforts by Senators who support women’s affordable access to reproductive health care.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015—known as the “doc fix” bill, which also extends critical funding for community health centers—passed the House of Representatives in late March with unnecessary restrictions on health care coverage for abortion, similar to the Hyde Amendment.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and several of her colleagues offered the Women’s Access to Quality Health Care Act amendment to the measure, which would have removed the abortion coverage restrictions from the measure, provided $500 million for the Title X family planning program, extended enhanced Medicaid reimbursements for OB/GYNs, and supported training programs for women’s health nurse practitioners. The amendment failed by a vote of 43 to 57.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Despite the best efforts of the champions of women’s rights and well-being in the Senate, yet another bill in Congress has been cynically used as an opportunity to score political points by denying women coverage for essential health care.
“We applaud the Members of Congress who have continued to stand strong against these attacks on affordable reproductive health care services. It’s long past time the rest of their colleagues join them in focusing on policies that would make a real difference in the lives of women and their families—not measures that put safe and legal abortion care out of reach for millions of women.”
Last night’s vote—and the failure to adopt Sen. Murray’s amendment—is yet another example of anti-choice Members of Congress hijacking legislation to insert harmful and politically-motivated abortion restrictions into any bill they can, including the recently stalled human trafficking bill.