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Senator Murray and 43 other Senate Democrats condemned the Trump-Pence administration’s rule undermining the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers in the Title X family planning program 

Providers concerned the Trump administration’s gag rule will undermine access to health care for millions of women in Washington state and across the country—particularly hurting poor and low-income patients

Senators: “[The Department of Health and Human Services] should be seeking to increase access to contraceptive care, not advancing policies that sow confusion and make it harder for women to access the health care they need”

ICYMI—Senator Murray talks impact of new Title X rule in Seattle: “This is about women making the right decisions for themselves, for their health care, so they can be capable of doing what they need to do, whether that is going to school, having a family later, getting their house in order if that is what they need to do” – MORE HERE

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, and 43 of her fellow Democratic senators sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar slamming the Trump-Pence administration’s new gag rule that compromises the Title X family planning program and the health care of millions of people in Washington state and across the country who rely on Title X-funded providers for cancer screenings, STI screenings, contraceptive care, family planning services, and more. The letter came as the administration’s minimal and conflicting guidance about its harmful rule has caused confusion and concern among providers. In the letter, Senator Murray called on the Trump administration to reverse course on the rule and maintain the essential care Title X funded clinics provide for over four million patients nationwide.

“Over the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided minimal and conflicting guidance to health care providers about how and when the Department intends to enforce the Trump Administration’s Title X rule. This rule will undermine the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers receiving Title X funding. It will also needlessly compromise health care for the millions of people who rely on the critical services provided by those centers, including comprehensive family planning and screening for diseases such as HIV and cancer. In light of this dangerous impact and the many concerns raised by health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders throughout the development of this rule, we believe the rule should be rescinded,” wrote the senators.

“Four million patients who rely on Title X-funded programs now face limited options, as clinics and providers recognize the new regulation will force them to choose between receiving federal funds and upholding the confidential relationship between patient and health care provider,” the senators warned.

The Trump administration’s gag rule undermines the historically bipartisan Title X family planning program and will impact roughly 4,000 Title X-funded clinics operating in all 50 states. The rule interferes with the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship and needlessly compromises health care for the millions of people—particularly poor and low-income patients—who seek care at Title X funded clinics.

Senator Murray has consistently fought to strengthen and preserve Title X funding, and has been a vocal critic of President Trump’s brazen attempts to undermine Title X and women’s health. In April, Senator Murray visited a Planned Parenthood health center in Seattle to hear from local patients and providers about how important Title X was for funding vital women’s health services, and last year she slammed President Trump for his initial attempt to impose a gag rule and undermine these services that millions of women in Washington state and across the country rely on.

Read the full letter below or access the PDF version HERE:

July 26, 2019

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II                    

Secretary        

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services      

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar, 

Over the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided minimal and conflicting guidance to health care providers about how and when the Department intends to enforce the Trump Administration’s Title X rule. This rule will undermine the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers receiving Title X funding. It will also needlessly compromise health care for the millions of people who rely on the critical services provided by those centers, including comprehensive family planning and screening for diseases such as HIV and cancer.

In light of this dangerous impact and the many concerns raised by health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders throughout the development of this rule, we believe the rule should be rescinded. 

For decades, Title X-funded clinics have provided high quality health care to patients. The historically bipartisan program is intended to offer a full range of confidential and unbiased family planning services. Title X-funded clinics not only provide access to contraception, allowing women to choose whether and when to start a family, but also offer cancer and HIV screenings, STI screenings and treatment, and related preventive services. Four million patients who rely on Title X-funded programs now face limited options, as clinics and providers recognize the new regulation will force them to choose between receiving federal funds and upholding the confidential relationship between patient and health care provider. That is why health care providers, including the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and nearly half of all States have filed lawsuits against HHS to challenge this rule. 

In fact, health care providers have indicated the ideology-based restrictions put them in the untenable position of deciding between offering substandard care and withdrawing from the program, potentially compromising health care access for the poor and low-income patients who rely on them. Six in ten of the women who obtain publicly funded contraceptive care at a safety-net health center, receive that care through a Title X-funded center.  HHS should be seeking to increase access to contraceptive care, not advancing policies that sow confusion and make it harder for women to access the health care they need. 

We urge you to reconsider this harmful rule and instead work with health care providers to maintain policies that will help ensure that women have access to the family planning services, cancer screenings, and STI screenings and treatment that they rely on Title X-funded clinics to provide. Please contact Laurel Sakai with Senator Murray’s HELP Committee staff with any questions at (202) 224-7675.  

Sincerely,

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