The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shortened the funding period for the latest round of Title X family planning grants to just seven months, rather than the usual three-year cycle. The move has concerned reproductive health advocates, who said it could indicate that the Trump administration is rushing to implement its proposed anti-choice domestic gag rule.
Title X grantees typically go through the application process and compete for funding every three years. This time, however, grants have only been awarded to fund providers from September 1 of this year until the end of March 2019.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, called the move “a gimmick, plain and simple” in a statement. “It’s all about moving as quickly as possible to undermine health care access for millions of people and to gag providers from discussing the full range of reproductive care options with patients.”
The move comes as the administration’s proposed Title X domestic gag rule, which could be finalized at some point this later month, looms. The rule would limit patients’ access to medically accurate family planning information and ban abortion providers from the Title X program. A September rollout for the new rule would dovetail with providers needing to restart the entire grant application process in November in order to have no gap in funding after April, when the current grants expire.
An HHS spokesperson appeared to confirm that timing for Rewire.News: “We plan a new competition for any funds appropriated for FY2019. Since [the Office of Population Affairs] wishes to compete all Title X grants in the middle of the fiscal year, the fall release of the new funding announcement