Merkley and Wyden Urge Vice President Biden to Reject Efforts to Undermine Access to Women’s Health Care Services in Budget Negotiations

Merkley and Wyden Urge Vice President Biden to Reject Efforts to Undermine Access to Women’s Health Care Services in Budget Negotiations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sent a letter urging Vice President Joe Biden to continue to reject efforts to include ideological agenda provisions in the final budget negotiations for Fiscal Year 2011 and to maintain funding for life saving medical care for women.

Each year in Oregon, Planned Parenthood provides over 20,000 screenings for cervical cancer, more than 22,000 breast exams and nearly 60,000 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Today’s letter was co-signed by Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich).

“This ideological agenda cloaked in a budget document isn't even good fiscal policy – as you know, preventative care saves taxpayers dollars in the long run and studies indicate that every dollar invested ends up saving $3.74 of health-related costs to federal and state governments. As a matter of creating jobs and bolstering the economy, this rider would have the opposite effect: not only will health centers be forced to close but many uninsured women and their families also may go without care, become more ill, and be kept away from their jobs,” wrote the senators.

The full text of the letter is below:

March 16, 2011

The Vice President
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Vice President,  

As you continue to lead the Administration’s negotiations over federal funding for critical government services for the remainder of this fiscal year, we wanted to offer our support in rejecting the ideological, divisive riders passed by the House of Representatives which serve only a purely political agenda.  We all believe that our federal budget should be a tool to speed up the economic recovery, not a vehicle to score partisan points.

As you know, H.R. 1 was loaded up with over one hundred extraneous riders which constitute an ideological wish list and have no place in a serious budget.  For example, a provision that completely prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding would do nothing to create jobs or tackle the deficit – it would instead effectively shut down health centers that serve three million women each year and provide nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

This ideological agenda cloaked in a budget document isn't even good fiscal policy – as you know, preventative care saves taxpayers dollars in the long run and studies indicate that every dollar invested ends up saving $3.74 of health-related costs to federal and state governments. As a matter of creating jobs and bolstering the economy, this rider would have the opposite effect: not only will health centers be forced to close but many uninsured women and their families also may go without care, become more ill, and be kept away from their jobs. More fundamentally, without the care Planned Parenthood provides - without access to Pap smears, pelvic exams and breast exams - women will die. That is not just a fiscal matter. That is a matter of conscience, and a question of who we are as Americans.

 We thank you for your leadership in these negotiations, and we stand ready to help in any way to defeat ideological riders that threaten our economic recovery today and America's long term strength

Sincerely,

John Kerry                              Daniel Akaka                          Max Baucus

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Mark Begich                           Richard Blumenthal                Barbara Boxer

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Sherrod Brown                       Dianne Feinstein                     Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Frank Lautenberg                    Patrick Leahy                          Carl Levin

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Robert Menendez                   Jeff Merkley                            Barbara Mikulski

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Bernie Sanders                        Charles Schumer                     Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow                    Ron Wyden

United States Senator             United States Senator

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