HHS: Proposed Revisions Would Strengthen Federal Family Planning Program

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking for Title X of the Public Health Service Act governing family planning program regulations. The proposed rulemaking would reportedly help ensure better access to family planning including fertility-related services, breast and cervical cancer screening, and sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing.

The fact sheet explained that Title X’s family planning program “is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.” Reportedly, the 1970-enacted law requires that projects and funded clinics provide a range of methods and services with priority given to low-income individuals and families.

The HHS seeks to modify existing Title X rules by making available “equitable, affordable, client-centered, quality family planning services for all clients.” The fact sheet clarified that the changes aim to serve “people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

Specifically, the agency suggested replacing rules adopted in March 2019 that established compliance standards for family planning services projects claiming they have reportedly “undermined the public health of the population the program is meant to serve.” The HHS proposed the readoption of its year 2000 rules with added modifications to fortify program offerings and guarantee access for populations most in need.

The proposed rulemaking has been published in the federal register, and the public comment period will run for 30 days from Apr. 15.