The maternal and child health (MCH) and the social services block grants have long played an important role in the provision of family planning services in the United States. The extent to which states have incorporated family planning services into the newer federally funded, but state-controlled, programs--Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)--has yet to be identified.
The health and social services agencies in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia and five federal jurisdictions were queried regarding their family planning expenditures and activities through the MCH and social services block grants and the TANF program in FY 1997. In addition, the states' CHIP plans were analyzed following their approval by the federal government. Because of differences in methodology, these findings cannot be compared with those of previous attempts to determine public expenditures for contraceptive services and supplies.
In FY 1997, 42 states, the District of Columbia and two federal jurisdictions spent $41 million on family planning through the MCH program. Fifteen states reported spending $27 million through the social services block grant. Most of these jurisdictions indicated that they provide direct patient care services, most frequently contraceptive services and supplies. Indirect services--most often population-based efforts such as outreach and public education--were reported to have been provided more often through the MCH program than through the social services program. MCH block grant funds were more likely to go to local health departments, while social services block grant funds were more likely to be channeled through Planned Parenthood affiliates. Four states reported family planning activities funded under TANF in FY 1997, the first year of the program's operation. Virtually all state plans for the implementation of the CHIP program appear to include coverage of family planning services and supplies for the adolescents covered under the program, even when not specifically required to do so by federal law.
Joining two existing--but frequently overlooked--block grants, two new, largely state-controlled programs are poised to become important sources of support for publicly funded family planning services. Now more than ever, supporters of family planning services need to look beyond the traditional sources of support--Title X and Medicaid--as well as beyond the federal level to the states, where important program decisions are increasingly being made.
Family Planning Perspectives, 1999, 31(4):176-181
Rachel Benson Gold is assistant director for policy analysis and Adam Sonfield is senior public policy assistant with The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington, DC. The research on which this article is based was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under grant no. FPR000057. The conclusions and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of DHHS. The authors express their gratitude for the important contributions of several AGI colleagues, including Rebekah Saul and Anjali Dalal.