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HHS Changes Family Planning Grant Rules to Allow More Providers

May 31, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made revisions to the rules on Title X funding to give low-income women more options for health care and family planning services.

The new rules prohibit grants to agencies that “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” and while agencies can give “non-directive” counseling on abortion, it doesn’t require it, which opens the door to providers not wishing to discuss that option.

Although it doesn’t specify an exact amount, Planned Parenthood states it has received a large portion of Title X funding over the years.  For each year since 2015, the federal government has distributed $286,479,000 in Title X funding grants, according to HHS. 

Opening Up New Options

HHS announced on March 29 the Obria Group will receive $5.1 million in Title X Family Planning Funding over the next three years. The nonprofit provider oversees seven clinic partners in four California counties, offering pregnancy testing and counseling; prenatal care through delivery; HIV/AIDS testing; pregnancy ultrasound; breast, and cervical cancer testing; well-woman care and pap smears; STD testing and treatment; sexual risk avoidance education; fertility education; natural family planning; adoption referrals, and post-abortion support.

“The new Title X regulations have opened the door for the Obria Group to offer women and their families healthy, comprehensive, and life-affirming care without having to offer abortion,” said Kathleen Eato Bravo, Obria Group founder and CEO. “The administration has opened up a new avenue of health care choices for low-income and underserved women and their families.”

Funding may be less certain for agencies such as the Missouri Family Health Council (MFHC). The group, also a nonprofit, was the only Title X recipient in the state for nearly 40 years, providing a variety of women’s health and family planning services to low-income women. The agency was awarded $5,000,000 for Fiscal 2019, according to HHS. 

“I think it would have a really negative impact on our network,” said Michelle Trupiano, MFHC executive director. “We’re really concerned about that.”

Planned Parenthood is one of 19 providers in MFHC’s network, handling 34 percent of MFHC’s total base of 40,000 patients.

Heading to Court

At least 20 states, the District of Columbia, and the American Medical Association have filed legal challenges against HHS’s Title X rule revisions. If an injunction halts Title X funds, Obria will continue to provide care, independent of government dollars, Bravo says.

“Obria clinics are fully licensed and staffed by full-time medical staff, allowing us to address a full spectrum of medical care in addition to crisis pregnancy support,” Bravo said. “Obria is transforming health care by providing compassionate, comprehensive, life-affirming, and affordable care to men and women across the United States.”

Ashley Bateman(bateman.ae@googlemail.com)writes from Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Internet info:

Statutes and Regulations Title X Notice of Final Rule, March 4, 2019

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/02/22/hhs-releases-final-title-x-rule-detailing-family-planning-grant-program.html