E&C Democrats Demand Answers on Troubling Changes to Title X Grantee Network
Energy and Commerce leaders sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar expressing their serious concerns regarding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Title X family planning services grants awarded in March. The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO).
“For nearly 50 years, the Title X program has issued grant funding to providers that offer high-quality family planning and essential preventive health care services in their communities,” the Committee leaders wrote to Azar. “The changes made to the Title X network and reports of external influence during the development of the funding opportunity announcement and application process appear to confirm concerns we have raised repeatedly as the Trump Administration continues to place political ideology over the well-being of women and families across the nation.”
The Committee leaders are particularly alarmed that five of the nine previously funded Title X grantees that did not receive funding include Planned Parenthood affiliates in five states: Hawaii, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Collectively, these former grantees have decades of experience participating in the Title X program and a longstanding history providing high-quality sexual and reproductive health care in their communities for low-income individuals, adolescents, LGBTQ individuals, black women and other people of color.
In contrast, one of the four new entities to receive funding includes the Obria Group, Inc. of California, a chain of crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). As reported last year, Obria clinics have an “unyielding stance on contraception” promoting “only natural family planning,” and, while Obria affiliated clinics test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and some will treat STIs, “they don’t distribute condoms to prevent them.” Despite being rejected for Title X funding in 2018, under the new awards, Obria will receive $1.7 million this year and could receive as much as $5.1 million through 2022. Additionally, the continued funding of Beacon Christian Community Health Center of New York is similarly concerning given the absence of contraceptives or contraceptive counseling indicated as a women’s health service they provide on their own website.
The Committee leaders continued, “In eliminating long-standing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health centers from the Title X network and directing funding to grantees that will not guarantee access to contraception or HIV and other STI prevention services, the funding decision contradicts the program’s longstanding purpose of ‘providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.’”
The Committee leaders are requesting answers to a series of questions, including:
- Responses to the outstanding 26 questions posed to HHS since January 2018.
- All documents and communications among and/or between HHS and the Obria Group, Inc. and any other Obria affiliated clinics’ staff regarding Title X funding from March 1, 2017 through March 29, 2019.
- All documents and communications among and/or between HHS and Beacon Christian Community Health Centers regarding Title X funding from March 1, 2017 through March 29, 2019
- The Orbia and Beacon applications for Title X funding under both the FY 2018 and FY 2019 Title X Family Planning Services Funding Opportunity Announcements and the respective review materials, correspondence, and scores.
The letter to HHS is available HERE.