The Obama Administration’s rule says that states can’t block people from accessing preventive care at a health center just because its organization also provides safe, legal abortion. However, the next administration could undo it.
Today the Obama Administration finalized a new rule that protects birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care for more than 4 million people.
The Obama Administration’s rule makes it clear that it is against the law for states to block people from accessing care at a health center because the organization also provides safe, legal abortion.
In setting this new rule, President Obama has cemented his legacy as a champion for women’s health. His administration’s rule ensures that patients can access care at qualified health care providers, including Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers.
The Rule Protects Access to Care Through Title X
The Obama Administration’s rule ensures those most in need — those who have very low incomes or lack health insurance — still have access to lifesaving care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams, despite backwards politicians’ efforts to block this care. It’s no wonder the rule garnered widespread support in the call for public comment, with 91% of the roughly 145,000 responses in favor of it.
In particular, the rule provides protection for the 4 million patients who access health care through Title X, the nation’s family planning program. Title X is designed to ensure that every person — regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or whether or not they have health insurance — has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care.
The Next Administration Could Attack These New Protections
This rule protects birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other health care for millions of people — yet this fight is not over. While the Obama Administration’s rule provides strong protections, it could face attacks in Congress or by a Health and Human Services secretary determined to undo these common-sense protections. The new rule comes amid mounting concerns over the future of reproductive health and rights, with extremists like Vice President-elect Mike Pence and and anticipated Health Secretary nominee Tom Price joining the Trump administration.
We are deeply concerned about the future of health care access in this country with extremists like Mike Pence and Tom Price at the helm. But we will not back down. We will continue to fight for our patients’ access to care. Every person deserves the right to control their own bodies, their own health, and their own well-being without politicians getting in the way.Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards
About Planned Parenthood & Title X
The Obama Administration’s new ruling also comes amid efforts from extreme politicians to block people who rely on federal funds from accessing their health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Backwards politicians like these have claimed that other providers like Community Health Centers (CHCs) could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients — but that idea has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact the American Public Health Association called the idea “ludicrous.”
Here are just a few reasons why access to care through Title X and Planned Parenthood is so important, and why the Obama Administration made such a bold move to protect it:
Planned Parenthood health centers care for approximately 1.5 million patients through Title X. That means Planned Parenthood cares for a large portion — roughly one-third — of the people that Title X serves. That’s a big role, especially given that Planned Parenthood comprises just 10% of all publicly supported safety net family planning centers.
6 in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care. For 4 in 10 of these women, it’s their only source of care.
Planned Parenthood health centers are located in the communities where access to care is most needed. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural and underserved communities. For many patients across the country, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only places they can turn to for reproductive health care.
People with low incomes and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, and who benefit most from the new rule’s protections. In 2014, 15% of Planned Parenthood patients were Black (more than 360,000 people), and 23% of Planned Parenthood patients were Latinos (more than 575,000 people). Meanwhile, 75% of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL).
Planned Parenthood health centers are also considerably more likely to offer Title X patients a broader range of contraceptive methods than other providers. In a study of CHCs, 69% reported referring their patients to family planning providers, like Planned Parenthood health centers, for family planning care.
More About Title X
Simply put, Title X helps ensure more than 4 million people have health care in this country. The nation’s family planning program offers preventive health care services to those most in need. This is the only way that millions of women who have low incomes or are uninsured have access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, and other basic care.
85% of the people served by Title X have incomes below 200% of FPL, and 48% are uninsured.
In 2015 alone, Title X provided nearly 800,000 Pap tests; breast exams to 1 million women; nearly 5 million tests for STIs; and 1 million HIV tests.
Of the 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients benefit from the nation’s family planning program, 78% live with incomes 150% of the FPL or less (the equivalent of $35,775 a year for a family of four in 2014). Approximately 20% of these patients identify as Latino/a; and approximately 15% identify as Black.
Public Health Experts on Planned Parenthood
For many women in America, Planned Parenthood is the only place where they are able to get needed quality care.Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, MBA, FACOG,immediate past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Put simply, it takes the entire spectrum of providers, including Planned Parenthood, to meet the needs of the growing population of low-income people without access to reproductive and other basic health care services. We work in conjunction with Planned Parenthood for family-planning and HIV services. We do referrals back and forth, so that people can receive services in the setting that they're most comfortable.Randall Ellis, senior director of government relations for Houston,TX FQHC Legacy Community Health Services
The assertion that community health centers could step into a breach of this magnitude is simply wrong and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how the health care system works.Sara Rosenbaum, J.D., Founding Chair of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients.Stephanie Taylor, Louisiana State Office of Public Health
Blocking Care at Planned Parenthood
Extreme politicians’ efforts to block patients from care at Planned Parenthood health centers have had devastating consequences:
After Kansas defunded Planned Parenthood, the number of people accessing birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, well-woman exams, and other care through the Title X program fell by more than 14,000.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs.
Blocking patients from care at health centers has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care. For example, in Texas, researchers found that more than half of women reported at least one barrier to reproductive health care. Spanish-speaking women from Mexico were more likely to report three or more barriers.