House Republicans are trying again this year to eliminate federal funding for a program that provides birth control, HIV testing and sexually transmitted disease screenings and treatment to low-income patients across the country.
The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee released a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 on Tuesday that zeroes out funding for the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program that provides contraceptive and other preventive health services to poor and uninsured individuals who would otherwise lack access to that kind of care. The program subsidizes 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provides no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year. The largest demographic the program serves is reproductive-aged women between 20 and 29 years old.
“An elimination of Title X would have a devastating impact on the 4.7 million Americans who may no longer have access to high-quality, patient-centered family planning and sexual health care services,” said Clare Coleman, CEO and president of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, an advocacy group for family planning providers. “For many of these women and men, a Title X-funded health center is their only access point to the health system and the only health care they receive all year.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, did not return a request for comment. Republicans have so far been unsuccessful in defunding Title X, because Democrats have controlled the Senate. But they have managed to reduce the program’s budget by $31 million since 2010. As a result of the budget cuts, the program now serves nearly 700,000 fewer patients, according to Coleman.