The US Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that it has awarded $16.3 million in grants to improve telehealth infrastructure and the capacity of reproductive health clinics nationwide.
HHS used funds available through the US bailout to award the money to 31 Title X family planning recipients for a 12-month project period beginning May 15, the agency said.
“Expanding telehealth into Title X family planning clinics across our nation will help ensure that all women and families have equitable access to this essential care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. a statement.
“Across the country, we are seeing attacks on sexual and reproductive health services, and through these funds and other HHS efforts, we can ensure that we are able to provide that care that so many people across the country need,” he continued.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Title X family planning clinics provide a wide range of reproductive and preventive health services to more than 190 million low-income and uninsured people, including screening for breast and cervical cancer, contraceptive advice and care and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
HHS says clinics will be able to use the new funding to expand their telehealth capacity — and, therefore, services throughout the community.
“As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, family planning clinics had already increased the use of telehealth,” Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a statement.
“These awards will help programs further accelerate telehealth in award-winning communities,” she continued.
The 31 recipients are located in 26 states, plus the US Virgin Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. Grants range from $72,144 to $700,000, with an average award of $527,522.
THE GREAT TREND
HHS announced funding availability in November 2021.
At that time, the agency said it planned to invest $35 million in telehealth for Title X clinics; after the release, reps said they had granted “all fundable requests for this funding opportunity, which totaled $16.3 million.”
As Becerra mentioned, news of the funding also comes amid growing attacks on reproductive health care — specifically, abortion rights and access. Although Title X funds cannot be used to pay for abortion services, they can be co-located with federally funded sites.
Just this month, the state of Tennessee criminalized abortion via telehealth, following news of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court bill providing for the the highest court’s plan to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This opportunity to maintain investments in telehealth for the Title X program helps open the door to high-quality family planning services for even more clients,” said HHS Deputy Undersecretary for Population Affairs. , Jessica Swafford Marcella, in a statement.