The Title X Family Planning Program, enacted in 1970 as part of the United States Public Health Service Act, provides approximately four million people across the United States with access to affordable family planning health services. Today, the Title X Family Planning Program is at risk of losing funding, adding to the concerns of the reproductive health community regarding the future of access to affordable, adequate care. The recently-announced replacement to the Affordable Care Act, the American Health Care Act (H.Res.130), would prevent organizations that provide abortion services from receiving Medicaid reimbursements, even though abortion services are not funded by federal money. This would ultimately reduce the effectiveness and reach of the Title X program, as it would act as a barrier to family planning organizations that rely on such support, thus decreasing the number of affordable providers.
The clinics that receive Title X funding provide preventative services, cancer screenings, birth control, pregnancy-options counseling, STI testing and treatment and adolescent health care (money from Title X is not permitted to be used for abortion services). Because of the vast number of services offered, many women rely on Title X-funded clinics as their primary place of care.
Most recipients of care supported by Title X funding are low-income women, and those who are uninsured or ineligible for Medicaid. In fact, 80% of women who are in need of care from Title X-funded health centers have incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level ($49,475 for a family of three). These publicly funded services allow people who cannot afford reproductive health care to access it at little to no cost, all while saving taxpayers and the government money ($7.09 for every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning programs) that would have gone toward Medicaid-related costs. An additional reduction or elimination of Title X funding would dramatically decrease the number of clients family planning agencies, like Planned Parenthood, could serve and provide critical care to, as these types of agencies rely on a combination of Medicaid and family planning funding to support at least 60% of their patients. Without these services, abortion and unintended pregnancy rates could increase by 68%.
Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, identified health care as the most important communal obligation of the whole of society (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Hamadda IV:23). Affordable, quality health care is a core element of creating a society of equality and justice. We must continue to support the health needs of the millions of women who rely on crucial services from reproductive health and family planning clinics. Urge your Members of Congress to defend access to affordable health care, and to ensure funding for reproductive health care providers so that women can access the essential health services they cannot receive elsewhere.
This blog originally appeared on the RAC's blog.
Maya Weinstein is a 2016-2017 WRJ/RAC Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Maya is from Fort Myers, FL and earned her B.A. from George Washington University.