CBO: Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Cost The Government $130M Over Next Decade

The conservative media-fueled campaign to permanently defund Planned Parenthood would lead to a net increase in government spending of $130 million over a 10-year period, according to a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

Conservative media have been championing Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood since the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of videos falsely claiming to show Planned Parenthood officials “selling aborted baby parts.” Although the videos have been roundly called out by experts and journalists for “show[ing] nothing illegal” and containing selectively-edited footage -- and multiple state and federal investigations have cleared the health care provider of any wrongdoing -- the videos nonetheless continue to prompt calls to defund the reproductive health organization.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would mean the elimination of critical family planning services, wellness checks, STD testing, and cervical and breast cancer screenings for millions of Americans -- a grim reality that right-wing media is doing its best to deny by claiming that community health clinics could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients, a scenario health care experts agree would be impossible.

In a September 22 report, CBO projected that permanently defunding Planned Parenthood “would increase direct spending by $130 million over the 2016-2025 period.” From an article on the report in The Hill (emphasis added): 

The CBO, Congress's nonpartisan scorekeeper, projects that defunding Planned Parenthood would actually end up increasing government spending, because it would result in more unplanned births as women lost access to services such as contraception. Medicaid would have to pay for some of those births, and some of the children themselves would then end up qualifying for Medicaid and other government programs. 

So while CBO estimates that cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood would reduce spending by $520 million 10 ten years, it would also increase spending by $650 million over that period. The net effect is an increase in spending of $130 million. 

Vox reported on September 16 that the CBO reported in July that “as many as 630,000 Planned Parenthood patients could lose access to birth control, STD screening, and other reproductive health services if the organization loses its federal funding.” From Vox (emphasis added): 

As many as 630,000 Planned Parenthood patients could lose access to birth control, STD screening, and other reproductive health services if the organization loses its federal funding, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday.

The House is scheduled to vote later this week on the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would bar the federal government from funding the group for one year. In debating the act, there's been significant argument over what would happen to Planned Parenthood patients if the group lost federal funding -- whether they would simply transition to other health-care providers or whether they would not find replacements.

CBO, for its part, says it would be a mixed bag: Of Planned Parenthood's 2.6 million patients, the agency estimates that between 130,000 and 630,000 “would face reduced access to care.”

“The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without access to other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations,” the agency concludes.