Northam and Herring oppose Trump Administration’s planned changes to Title X Program

~ Proposed changes would freeze out certain health care providers and limit information and health care services provided to low-income Virginians through Title X ~

Governor Ralph S. Northam and Attorney General Mark R. Herring are strongly opposing the Trump administration’s planned changes to the Title X program that would freeze out health care providers like Planned Parenthood and limit the information and range of health care services that low-income Virginians may receive through the Title X program.

In official comments on the new proposed rules submitted on behalf of the Commonwealth by Attorney General Herring, he warns that “the changed regulations will cripple a critical and successful federal program and put women across Virginia at risk.” In 2017, more than 50,000 Virginians received care through the Title X program, 65 percent of whom were uninsured, and in 38 percent of Virginia localities the Title X provider is the only public health care provider.

“When women make personal decisions about their health, they should be able to turn to the provider they trust,” said Governor Northam. “These proposed changes to Title X would have devastating public health consequences, including putting access to quality, affordable care at risk and undermining the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship.”

“These proposed changes to Title X would be devastating to low-income Virginians and are just another way that the Trump Administration is working to undermine women’s access to quality, affordable health care,” said Attorney General Herring. “Women should have access to useful information and the freedom to make their own health care decisions, especially when it comes to something as personal as reproductive health. If the Trump Administration continues with these planned changes, I will not hesitate to take any action necessary to protect women’s access to health care across Virginia and across the country.”

Since 1970, Title X has provided a broad range of family planning services to low-income women and families. In 2017, Virginia received approximately $4.45 million in Title X funds to support access to family planning and health care services at 139 providers across the state. Virginia’s designated Title X grantees are the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, with VDH accounting for approximately 86 percent of the patients seen and 91 percent of the supported sites.

In February 2018, the Trump Administration announced new proposed rules that would strip Title X funding from any provider that provides information on abortion, and would instead favor facilities that do not provide medically sound information or comprehensive health care.

In his official comments, Attorney General Herring outlines the “devastating public health consequences” of the new rule:

  • Approximately 51,000 patients received Title X services in 2017, and of them, approximately 89 percent of patients had an annual income of less than $29,700 and 65 percent were uninsured.
  • In 2010, it was estimated that Title X services prevented 19,000 unintended pregnancies, 39 cervical cancer cases and nearly 1,000 sexually transmitted infections.
  • In 2015, 75 percent of the women who received care at a publicly funded clinic went to a Title X grantee.
  • 38 percent of Virginia localities have been exclusively served by clinics that received Title X funds.

The clinics in these localities provided care to 24,120 women in 2015. The proposed rule would lead to higher costs for Virginia’s taxpayers. The Commonwealth received $4.45 million in Title X grants in 2017 and an additional $13 million could be at risk if VDH were to refuse funds altogether.

In addition to outlining the significant negative impacts of the proposed rule, Attorney General Herring’s comments outline the numerous ways that the new rule and the process surrounding it may violate the law and the constitution. Should the rule go forward in its current form, Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring are prepared to examine every option to protect Virginians access to health care, including suing the Trump administration.

-Submitted by Charlotte Gomer