CBO: Defunding Planned Parenthood increases government spending

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Permanently defunding Planned Parenthood would end up increasing government spending by $130 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

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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. 

The estimates come as a debate rages over defunding the organization. Recent Republican proposals have focused on cutting off funding for just one year, though. Such a bill passed the House last week, and Senate Republicans released such a government funding bill on Tuesday, though it is expected to fail in a vote on Thursday. 

The CBO previously estimated that cutting off funding for just one year would reduce spending by $235 million. It similarly found that a one-year defunding would result in more unplanned births but not enough to increase government spending. 

The CBO notes in its new estimate that its projections are “highly uncertain.”  It says that as little as 5 percent or as many as 25 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 2.6 million patients could face reduced access to care if Planned Parenthood were defunded. People in geographic areas without access to other clinics would be hardest hit, it finds. 

It also estimates there would be “several thousand” more births per year, though the number would decline over time as people found other healthcare providers. 

The CBO estimates that Planned Parenthood gets about $450 million annually in federal funds, with $390 million coming from Medicaid payments and $60 million coming from family planning grants. The CBO factored into its analysis proposals to redistribute Planned Parenthood's funds to other health providers and therefore estimates there would be no savings from cutting off the $60 million in grants because that money would be redirected to the other providers.