On February 6 th , the President released his Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) Budget Request seeking a total of $2.7 trillion dollars in funding from Congress. This budget includes significant increases in military and homeland security spending and $15 billion in overall cuts and reductions resulting from the elimination of 141 programs that currently receive government funding. The bulk of these cuts focused on programs providing health care, education, housing, nutrition, and social services, as well as programs promoting equal opportunities.
While the President requested cuts in a myriad of proven and already under-funded health and education programs, he proposed increasing funding for unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs by 15% to $204 million. His request would increase the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) account by $27 million to $141 million including $4.5 million for a national evaluation of abstinence-only programs and up to $10 million to fund a national abstinence-only-until-marriage awareness campaign. As in past years, the President's request includes flat funding of $50 million for Title V (authorized under welfare reform) and $13 million within the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) that is explicitly tied to the same definition of “abstinence education” as the other two programs. The Budget also expressed support for increasing funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to $270 million by 2009.
The requested increases for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are less than they have been in previous years. For Fiscal Year 2006, the President requested that these programs be increased by $38 million. And, for Fiscal Year 2005 he pledged doubling funding for these unproven programs to $273 million.
“The President's conservative ideology, not public health, is the big winner in his proposed budget,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “With such large cuts in health and education, it is unconscionable that Federal tax dollars continue to flow into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs despite the fact that no evaluation has proven them to have a positive impact on young people's health, and some research suggests they may be harmful,” Smith continued.
In other areas of the President's Budget Request, funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment fell far short of need levels. The President requested that the Ryan White CARE Act , which funds primary healthcare and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, be flat-funded apart from a $70 million increase to the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program and $25 million for faith-based outreach programs. In addition, the budget proposed cutting Medicaid and Medicare programs, the nation's largest providers of HIV testing and treatment, by a combined $40.8 billion over five years.
On the other hand, the budget requested $188 million to give to states as well as faith-based and community-based organizations for a new initiative to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS , particularly within minority communities nationwide by “promot[ing] marriage and healthy family development.” Of the $188 million, $95 million would be provided through the Ryan White program for treatment and outreach and $93 million would be funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for increased testing among high-risk populations. According to the Administration, the primary objectives of this initiative are “to reduce the number of new HIV infections each year, diagnose those Americans [who are] currently infected with HIV but do not know it, and provide care and treatment to individuals who have limited or no access to health care.”
In addition, the President once again requested flat-funding ($283 million) for Title X family planning services. Title X is the only federal program dedicated solely to funding family planning and reproductive health care services. Title X clinics offer low income women voluntary contraceptive services, prenatal care, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and other services. And, on the heels of the first cut to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) funding since 1970, the President also proposed level-funding this agency in FY07.
In contrast, the budget requests $250 million for “ new healthy marriages and strengthening fathering initiatives,” of which $100 million is for competitive matching grants to States for marriage promotion programs.
In the global funding arena, the 2007 Budget includes $4 billion for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) , an increase of more than $740 million over 2006. The Budget proposes, for the first time in this Administration, that overall funding for international family planning assistance funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development be severely reduced. The budget provides only $294 million for the program—a $141 million cut.
“By transferring money from effective public health programs to ideological ones, the President once again betrays the public trust,” Smith said. “This budget has no basis in reality and it is time the Administration stops undervaluing and under-funding the public health system,” Smith continued.
The budget and accompanying documents can be accessed at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy07/browse.html