GW Faculty and Staff Submit Comments to HHS on Proposed Title X “Gag” Rule

A group of 17 members of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health’s (GW Milken Institute SPH) faculty and staff submitted comments on July 26 in response to a recent rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The GW Milken Institute SPH group said they are “deeply concerned about any proposed changes to Title X policies that could adversely impact health center participation, given Title X’s major role in strengthening and enhancing health centers’ family planning performance.”

Established in 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon, Title X provides affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low incomes and others who need health care services. “The proposed rules would impose practice restrictions at direct odds with federal requirements applicable to community health centers, thereby fundamentally threatening their continued participation in Title X,” the GW Milken Institute SPH faculty and staff state in their comment.  

The GW Milken Institute SPH is well known for its research into the role of community health centers in ensuring access to high quality, comprehensive family planning services for medically underserved communities and populations. In their comment, the faculty and staff signatories contend that health center clinical and patient support staff would be “gagged” from properly advising and counseling their patients in accordance with the professional standard of care by the new rule. Physicians would be “barred from identifying specific sources of safe and effective abortions,” and “thoughtfully counseling their patients about which of the various treatment options might best meet their health needs and those of their families,” they write.

The GW Milken Institute SPH faculty and staff cite the impact in Texas when the state adopted an exclusionary policy similar to what HHS is proposing. The change in Texas’s law effectively stripped Planned Parenthood clinics of their ability to participate in the state-funded family planning program. To compensate, community health centers needed to absorb as much as a 500 percent increase in the demand for family planning services. “Health centers simply cannot ramp up sufficiently to meet this rising level of need given their simultaneous obligations to serve all community residents, from birth through old age…. As a result, women, their children, their families, and the Medicaid program will pay an enormous price,” the faculty and researchers stated.

Read the entire comment below: