Family planning providers across Arizona have struggled for nearly two years (and counting) under onerous restrictions the Trump administration placed on the Title X program, which is the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning. Our patients, the majority of whom live with low incomes, have borne the brunt of the pain.
Arizona witnessed a dramatic decrease in clients served. In 2019, when Planned Parenthood left the network as a direct result of Trump administration Title X rule there was a 24% decrease and another 39% in 2020 in clients served. With substantially reduced capacity to see patients, we are seeing a record decline in STD and HIV tests administered, breast and cervical cancer screenings performed, and contraceptive supplies distributed. Relief from the 2019 rule cannot come soon enough.
Thankfully, the Biden administration has proposed new rulemaking that has the potential to reverse the damage, increase patient access to highly qualified providers, and advance health equity.
We at Arizona Family Health Partnership are counting on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to quickly finalize new program regulations that uphold patient confidentiality, a bedrock protection unique to Title X; protect specialized providers’ ability to provide care to people who need it; and support innovations like telehealth in the program.
To truly take meaningful action toward repairing the damage done to the nation’s family planning program, Health and Human Services should listen to safety-net family planning providers from across the country about what they need to make it right so that all people — no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make — have the family planning and sexual health care they need.
Brenda “Bré” Thomas is CEO, Arizona Family Health Partnership.