Now What? A Public Policy Update…

Date: July 26th, 2017
By:

Bob Reeg

Health Appropriations

Congress is working through its annual appropriations process to set future spending levels for federal programs. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed on a party-line vote (28 Republicans for, 22 Democrats against) the appropriations measure setting spending levels for fiscal year (FY) 2018 (which begins October 1, 2017) for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Unfortunately, the House measure eliminates all funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and the Title X Family Planning Program, two sources of funds of high importance to the youth and young adults that Healthy Teen Network and our member organizations support.

This adverse result should not overshadow the diligent efforts of Democratic members of the Committee, along with Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) to preserve funds for TPPP and Title X by offering amendments to the base bill. Healthy Teen Network encourages members with a Democratic representative on the Appropriations Committee (see list of committee members) or Representative Dent to call their representative’s office at 202-224-3121 and express your thanks for their support of TPPP and Title X.

A date for consideration of the FY 2018 health appropriations legislation by the full House of Representatives has not been announced.

Healthy Teen Network members should now turn their attention to communicating their support for continued funding for TPPP and Title X to their two U.S. Senators. If you can, take advantage of the summer recess period to meet with your Senators while they are home. Otherwise, please do email and call your Senators.

  1. Advocate and ask your senators to…
    • “Please protect the current funding level and structure of the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program run by the HHS Office of Adolescent Health.
    • “Please oppose all cuts to Title X.”
  2. Educate members of Congress…
    • Share the positive outcomes and progress made possible by the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program.

The Highly Unusual Premature Shortening of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

As you may already know from our recent increased media coverage, two weeks ago Healthy Teen Network was one of many organizations to receive the devastating and highly unusual news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will pull over $210 million in funding for teen pregnancy efforts. The Office of Adolescent Health will likely be dissolved entirely. Over 80 grantees will be forced to prematurely end what were supposed to be five-year grants. Most importantly, hundreds of thousands of young people across the nation will stop receiving the quality pregnancy prevention education they need to thrive.

In response to this news, Healthy Teen Network President and CEO Pat Paluzzi explains,

“This decision is alarming and flies in the face of what has proven effective. Our sparse resources should expand on what is working to increase access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual health services to more youth, such as investing in proven effective programs while promoting innovative ways to reach more youth.”

Democratic Members of Congress are united in their opposition to the HHS decision to preemptively terminate the TPPP program. Members of both chambers have sent group letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price questioning the Department’s decision to shorten the duration of grant agreements for the TPPP. U.S. Representatives joined the House letter to Secretary Price. Thirty-eight (38) Senators signed the Senate letter to Secretary Price. The high number of Members of Congress raising questions about the HHS decision on early termination of TPPP suggests that this decision may not stick. But current grantees should plan to unwind their projects as so instructed by their program officers.

 

Resources to Support Your Education and Advocacy Efforts

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About the Author

Bob Reeg, MPA, CVA, Program Development and Public Policy Consultant, is an accomplished nonprofit organization program director & public policy analyst and advocate, and an emerging social purpose entrepreneur.

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