Family planning

HHS to invest $35 million in telehealth for family planning

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would make $35 million in U.S. Bailout funding available to Title X family planning providers to bolster their telehealth infrastructure and capacity.

Title X family planning clinics help ensure access to a wide range of reproductive health services for low-income or uninsured people.

“I’ve seen firsthand the critical role telehealth plays in serving communities, especially in protecting so many families from COVID-19,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. statement on grant availability.

“As providers shifted from providing in-person primary care to offering telehealth services, we were able to test, vaccinate and act as a lifeline for communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” he said. -he declares. “Increasing our investments and access to telehealth services remains essential.”

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

The Bureau of Population Affairs funds 71 ​​Title X family planning service recipients and supports hundreds of subrecipients and thousands of service sites across the country.

Family planning includes a wide range of services related to reproductive health, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy testing.

Although abortion care can be collocated with family planning servicesTitle X funds cannot be used to pay for it.

While some services require in-person treatment and exams, others can be done via telehealth – as evidenced by recipients’ use of virtual care to support their patients during the COVID-19 crisis. Yet facilities may not have the right technology.

“During the global COVID-19 pandemic, family planning programs have accelerated the use of telehealth,” Dr. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health, said in a statement.

“These ARP funds will facilitate the delivery of quality family planning services and reduce barriers to access for people living in America who depend on the health care safety net for services,” she added.

HHS plans to use the funds to award approximately 60 one-time grants to active Title X recipients. Organizations must apply by February 3, 2022, and award notices will be announced prior to the project start date of May 1, 2022.

THE GREAT TREND

Even as the government moved to bolster telehealth infrastructure through funding, the question of the future of virtual care continues to loom over Congress.

Despite pleas from hundreds of advocacy organizations, lawmakers have so far failed to take steps to permanently protect telehealth after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends — something some say. activists have called it “the telehealth cliff”.

“We recognize that there are many unknowns related to the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic over the next 12 to 24 months,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, in October. “However, we implore Secretary Becerra to provide as much predictability and certainty as possible to ensure adequate warning before patients are pushed over this impending cliff.”

REGISTRATION

“The pandemic has laid bare the important role telehealth can play in the delivery of our country’s health services, and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to support continued investments in telehealth for the safety net of the family planning nation,” said HHS Deputy Jessica Swafford Marcella. assistant secretary for population affairs, in a statement.

Kat Jercich is editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
E-mail: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.