HHS finalizes rule reversal for Title X family planning services

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On October 7, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a final rule to update program regulations for Title X family planning services, based on proposals released earlier this year. AAMC submitted comments in support of program revisions [refer to Washington Highlights, May 21]. The rule comes into effect on November 8.

The rule returns the program to regulations promulgated in 2000, reversing policy changes finalized in a 2019 rule that the HHS has since found to have negatively impacted public health. Specifically, the new regulations removed the 2019 rules requirements for the physical and financial separation of abortion services and reinstated the requirement that family planning methods be “medically approved.” This regulation also removed limits from the 2019 rules on information about healthcare options and referrals that Title X-supported providers can offer. The program will again allow providers to refer patients to other providers who offer the patient’s preferred family planning method, including abortion services. The HHS noted that the rule retains the long-standing ban on promoting or directly performing abortions, as required by law.

In addition, the ministry made changes to program policies to strengthen the program and increase access to affordable and quality family planning services. These policy changes included the adoption of newly defined terms in program regulations – including “adolescent friendly health services,” “client-centered care,” “health equity,” “inclusiveness,” “care. quality health ”and“ trauma informed ”. – based on the use of these terms by government agencies or major medical associations to ensure equitable care under the program. The regulation also incorporated more inclusive language into the program by replacing the term “condition of disability” with “disability”, the term “women” with “client” and the term “persons” with “clients”. Finally, the HHS has updated the definition of “sex” to include the newly defined terms “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” and “sex characteristics” as part of the broader requirement that title recipients X “provide services in a way that does not discriminate against a patient on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, number of pregnancies or their marital status.

The HHS has also expanded the reach of health care providers advisory services beyond physicians to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The ministry also clarified in the regulatory text that telehealth services are an appropriate service delivery under the Title X program. The HHS intends to provide additional training and technical assistance to providers supported by Title X. on the use of various telehealth modalities to improve access, quality and equity.

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