Monday, February 25, 2019

HHS Issues Final Rule Changes For Title X Family Planning Programs

In a 312-page release (full text) issued on Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued final rules revising regulation of its Title X family planning program. The new rules are scheduled to take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.  According to the release:
This rule ... will ensure compliance with, and enhance implementation of, the statutory requirement that none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning, as well as related statutory requirements.....  The rule also clarifies that provision of family planning services under Title X may be available under the good reason exception at the discretion of the project director for women denied coverage for contraceptives if the sponsor of their health plan exercises a religious or moral exemption recognized by the Department.
The new rules, according to Politico:
could effectively cut off tens of millions of federal family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood and steer some of that funding towards anti-abortion, faith-based care providers....
It would ... bar Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that accept the funding from making any abortion referrals or performing abortions — regardless of the funding source — at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like birth control, mammograms and cancer screenings.
One of the rule changes eliminates the requirement that Title X programs provide abortion referral if requested.  The release says that this requirement conflicted with statutes protecting conscience in health care. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]