NCSD statement on the enactment of Title X rule change and its implications for the STD field
On Monday, the deadline passed for Title X grantees to submit an “assurance and action plan” to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailing how they would comply with rule changes prohibiting Title X grantees from providing or referring patients for abortion services. Failure to comply with the rule would result in grantees forfeiting all Title X funding. Planned Parenthood Federation of American (PPFA), the nation’s largest recipient of Title X funding, announced its plan to withdraw from the program forgoing about $60 million in federal funding. Several states also stated they will not participate in the program under the new restrictions. Last Friday, a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit rejected efforts to block the rule from taking effect. There are additional legal challenges to the rule.
The Title X federal family planning program provides over $260 million annually to fund family planning and related preventive health services, such as STD screenings and treatments, for over four million low-income people. In 2017, Title X provided over 6.4 million STD and HIV screening services.
Many NCSD members rely on the network of Title X clinics to provide STD testing and treatment in their jurisdictions, and this rule could destabilize a key network of STD prevention partners across the country. We encourage our Members to view the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) Title X Family Planning Directory to determine how the rule will affect STD programs in their state.
Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of PPFA, details the possible public health implications of the rule. “In Iowa, STD rates have spiked after health center closures, and access is already diminished… In New Hampshire, since the state cut funding for STI testing and treatment in 2012, rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia spiked in the state.” With STDs at all-time highs and federal support for STD prevention depleted, any limit in access to STD services could thwart efforts to turn the tide of STDs in the U.S.
NCSD recognizes family planning programs and clinics as key allies in the fight against STDs and essential access points for high quality sexual and reproductive health care. This rule will be detrimental to individuals seeking these services across the nation, especially young and low-income women, a population bearing the brunt of the STD epidemic. We will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen STD clinics and care around the country and will update you, our Members, of any developments along the way.