February 28, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Women's Health Access to Care
The Trump administration issued a final rule last week that bars qualified family planning providers that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program. The California Medical Association (CMA) believes this rule will interfere with the physician-patient relationship, undermine established medical access and prevent low-income people from accessing the full range of reproductive health care.
The final rule also eliminates current requirements that Title X sites offer a broad range of medically approved family planning methods and nondirective pregnancy options counseling; and directs new funds to faith-based and other organizations that promote fertility awareness and abstinence as methods of family planning, rather than the full range of evidence-based family planning methods.
Groups receiving money under the Title X program, which in California serves 1 million low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds. Under the new rule, federally-funded family planning clinics must now maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals.
Established in 1970, Title X is the sole federal program dedicated to funding family planning services for low-income individuals. Title X supports the delivery of family planning and related services including contraception, STD prevention and treatment, pregnancy tests, and life-saving cancer screenings. It plays a vital role in the nation’s public health safety net by ensuring that timely, safe, and evidence-based care is available to women, men and adolescents, regardless of their financial circumstances.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than $7 billion in taxpayer dollars are saved every year by preventing unintended pregnancies and by early treatment of breast and cervical cancer through Title X health centers nationwide. California’s Title X provider network is the largest in the nation – representing over 25 percent of Title X patients nationwide. In California alone, $1.3 billion is saved annually thanks to public investment in family planning and related services provided at Title X-funded health centers.
CMA believes this new rule will severely undermine the effectiveness of the Title X program. By reconfiguring who receives Title X funding, as well as the scope of family planning methods and services that those providers offer, these new regulations will limit access to critically needed care and services for millions of individuals who depend upon the Title X program for their care and will result in harm to patients and the public health.
CMA submitted comments strongly opposing this rule when it was first proposed. Read CMA’s comments here.