Congress Extends PREP But Increases Wasteful Spending for AOUM Program
Last night, Tuesday, April 14th, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed a $200 billion package of healthcare funding legislation (HR 2), by an overwhelming vote of 92 to 8. As previously shared by SIECUS, HR 2, which includes the “doc fix” for Medicaid reimbursement rates, children’s insurance funding for two-years, and numerous other health care provisions, includes a two-year extension of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) at the current funding level, $75 million per year, through fiscal year (FY) 2017. Having passed the House of Representatives in a similar demonstration of bipartisan support last month, the bill now goes to the President for his expected signature.
SIECUS is pleased that state, community, and tribal PREP-funded partners will now have two years of funding stability to continue providing adolescent sexual health promotion and adulthood preparation programs across the country. SIECUS thanks PREP supporters in both the House and the Senate for their continued commitment to ensuring investments in medically accurate and evidence-based based efforts to equip young people with the sexual health information, including topics such as abstinence, healthy relationships, and contraception, they need to make healthy decisions throughout their lives.
However, our work is far from over…
The compromise bill package also included a two-year extension of the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) program that enables the implementation of ineffective and stigmatizing curricula. More alarmingly, the program received a funding increase, bringing its annual funding to $75 million. In addition, a policy rider provision in HR 2 now also requires unobligated Title V AOUM funds be made available to states implementing programs that adhere to the full A-H definition of “Abstinence Education,” as opposed to returning any unobligated funds to the general treasury as before.
Given the state-match requirements of the program, this has the potential to surpass more than $130 million per year in public dollars wasted on AOUM programs that have consistently proven to be ineffective. While there is an unfortunate track record of funding increases for ineffective AOUM programs through multiple funding streams, this is the first ever increase for the 18 year-old mandatory Title V AOUM program.
SIECUS is incredibly disappointed by this wasteful funding increase and the expansion of AOUM programs. Since 1982, more than $1.7 billion in federal dollars have been spent on these programs that are damaging to young people, especially those who are already sexually active, engaged in same-sex relationship, and/or survivors of sexual abuse or assault, and fail to provide opportunities to learn the health information and skill that young people will use throughout their lives.
For more information or questions, please contact Jesseca Boyer, SIECUS Director of Public Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.