Nonprofit continues control of Title X funds in Missouri, beating bid by the state | Health3 min read
JEFFERSON CITY — The nonprofit Missouri Family Health Council will continue its 40-year-long role as the sole administrator of the federal Title X family planning program in the state, beating out a bid by the state’s health department.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week announced the recipients of $256.6 million in Title X funding, which has provided breast and cervical cancer screening, contraceptives and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment to low-income or uninsured individuals for the past 50 years.
Missouri Family Health Council was awarded more than $5.3 million, which will be allocated to 16 health systems operating 65 clinic sites throughout Missouri. They include local health departments, federally qualified health centers, community action agencies, hospital-based clinics, and two Planned Parenthood affiliates.
People are also reading…
Over the past two and a half years, more than a quarter of Title X providers across the country, including Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, withdrew from the program because of Trump-era regulations that prohibited abortion referrals and imposed other counseling restrictions for pregnant patients.
The regulations known as the “domestic gag rule” were lifted by the Biden administration. This year’s funding cycle, which runs from April to March, is the first full year since 2018 that a number of providers have returned to the program.
In 2018, before withdrawing from the program, the St. Louis region’s Planned Parenthood affiliate received about $450,000 in Title X funds and cared for 14% of the state’s patients seeking services through the program, said Michelle Trupiano, MFHC executive director.
The number of Missourians receiving care through Title X dropped from nearly 38,000 in 2018 to about 30,700 in 2021.
How much the Planned Parenthood affiliate will receive this year has yet to be determined, Trupiano said.
This year marks the third time the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services competed for oversight of the funds. The state agency also submitted bids in 2018 and 2019.
Trupiano said she was concerned that had state officials won control of the program, they would have cut Planned Parenthood from the Title X network.
Missouri was one of 11 states that had tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Biden administration from changing the gag rule. And in 2019, DHSS made a failed attempt to revoke the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license, citing concerns about “failed abortions.”
Putting the program in the hands of DHSS would mean state lawmakers could create rules in how the funds are issued. The Republican-controlled Legislature has worked to limit access to abortion by enacting regulations and restricting funding to Planned Parenthood, the only abortion provider in Missouri.
“We remain hopeful that the state of Missouri will set ideology aside and work collaboratively with us to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care in Missouri,” Trupiano said. “MFHC will preserve the hallmarks of Title X: comprehensive, client-centered, non-directive health care for all clients, regardless of the ability to pay.”
Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for DHSS, issued a statement Thursday stating that DHSS had wanted the opportunity to administer Title X funds “to our broad network of providers” across the state.
“But we respect the decision that was made at the federal level and look forward to working with partners in public health, health care and other organizations to advance maternal-child health in Missouri.”
“We remain hopeful that the state of Missouri will set ideology aside and work collaboratively with us to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care in Missouri. (Missouri Family Health Council) will preserve the hallmarks of Title X: comprehensive, client-centered, non-directive health care for all clients, regardless of the ability to pay.”
Michelle Trupiano, MFHC executive director