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A 1970 amendment to the United States' Public Health Service Act of 1944, the Title X Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs comprise the lone federal funding vehicle devoted to the establishment of sound family planning practices and ancillary services. The purpose of the program is to offer priority assistance to low-income Americans who might not otherwise be able to afford contraceptive items, family planning information and health education outreach. Among the broad objectives of the grants provided under Title X are the achievement of improved infant health, reductions in teen pregnancy, decreased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and lower rates of accidental pregnancy.
Funds appropriated through this statutory program are distributed through grants made to community clinics, hospitals, university health services and other local service providers. Those facilities then offer services to eligible recipients at reduced prices or no cost. Specific assistance provided under Title X includes pregnancy testing, natural family planning counseling and contraceptive products. It also provides for sterilization procedures, gynecological examinations and screening for sexually transmitted diseases and other related health conditions. The use of federal monies specifically to provide abortion services, through Title X or otherwise, is statutorily prohibited.
This portion of the Public Health Service Act directs its funding to community-based healthcare providers in each of the 50 states, and more than 70 percent of the nation’s counties contain at least one Title X recipient clinic. There are more than 4,000 providers throughout the U.S., including those under the auspices of state and local health departments, independent clinics, tribal governments, nonprofit groups and educational institutions. Ten Public Health Regional Offices serve as conduits for all Title X funds and make service and training grants to provider organizations on a competitive basis. Each region has a health administrator who is responsible for broad oversight and general administration of initiatives funded by Title X. Regional program consultants provide an additional layer of administrative service and oversight responsibility within each region.
Services made possible by these funds are targeted primarily to low- and middle-income Americans. The majority of people who seek assistance through statutorily funded service providers earn incomes that are less than 150 percent of the federal poverty threshold. Most of those people have no health insurance coverage and are ineligible for Medicaid. Health services that are offered pursuant to Title X programs are offered free of charge to people whose income levels are less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line, and services are based on a sliding fee schedule for anyone who earns an income that is less than 250 percent of the poverty threshold. The proponents of these federal programs often emphasize the cost savings that are achievable because of increased family planning education and outreach, which can help prevent unintended pregnancies.
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