HHS Proposes New Title X Rules, Seeks to Undo Restrictions Established by Trump Administration

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed new regulations governing the Title X Family Planning Program. Title X, enacted as part of the 1970 Public Health Service Act, provides individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services including breast and cervical cancer screening and STI/HIV testing.

The new regulations proposed by the Biden-Harris Administration would undo the rules issued in March 2019 by the Trump Administration. Recall, the rules finalized under the Trump Administration prohibit Title X providers from referring patients to certain reproductive health services and limit sites that are eligible to receive Title X funds. The finalized rule additionally specifies that clinics that refer patients to other facilities for abortion services would no longer qualify for Title X funds to provide low-income women with comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services. Several lawsuits were filed against the Trump Administration following the finalization of the Title X rule in 2019, though nationwide injunctions were invalidated, allowing the Trump Administration to enforce its new Title X rules. Following the judicial actions, many reproductive health services providers, including Planned Parenthood, exited the Title X program.

In California, eight local health departments have served as Title X subgrantees, delivering reproductive health services to residents at 46 sites in those jurisdictions. LHDs that are not direct subgrantees work closely with community-based Title X providers to ensure access to essential health services.

Under the new rules by the Biden-Harris Administration, HHS proposes to readopt Title X regulations established in 2000 with additional modifications to strengthen the program and ensure access to equitable, affordable, client-centered, quality family planning services for all clients, especially those that are low-income. The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 30 days until May 17, 2021.

Additional information from HHS is available here. The proposed regulations are available here.