(Missouri Independent) – Despite facing competition from the state health department, the nonprofit Missouri Family Health Council Inc. will continue to administer federal Title X family planning funds.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $250 million in Title X funding this week, including $5.3 million to Missouri. That money helps pay for contraception counseling and supplies; breast and cervical cancer screening; sexually transmitted infection prevention; pregnancy screening and counseling; and basic infertility services.
Missouri Family Health Council will distribute the money to facilities across the state, including two Planned Parenthood clinics.
“Our network of providers are committed to the delivery of inclusive, trauma-informed, and culturally sensitive care that meets the needs of all Missourians,” said Michelle Trupiano, the nonprofit’s executive director.
In February, reproductive rights advocates raised alarms that the Department of Health and Senior Services had once again applied to oversee the funding, a move they saw as an effort to cut off funds for providers who refer patients for abortion services.
The Missouri Family Health Council has been the sole grantee of Title X funding for the last 40 years.
In October, President Joe Biden’s administration rolled back rules issued under former President Trump that barred providers who refer abortion services from receiving federal dollars. As a result, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri rejoined the Title X program after leaving in light of the Trump-era rule.
From 2018 to 2019, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, served 14% of all Title X clients in Missouri, according to MHFC.
DHSS’ attempt to oversee the Title X funds, follows new emergency regulations enacted last year that allow the state health department, which inspects and licenses abortion facilities, to share info on inspection violations with the Department of Social Services, which could then sanction facilities by barring Medicaid payments. Planned Parenthood previously called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Despite administrative and legislative efforts to restrict access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, MFHC will preserve the hallmarks of Title X: Comprehensive, client-centered, non-directive healthcare for all clients, regardless of the ability to pay,” Trupiano said.
In an email to The Independent, Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for DHSS, said the agency had wanted the opportunity to administer Title X funds, but “we respect the decision that was made at the federal level and look forward to working with partners in public health, health care, and other organizations to advance maternal-child health in Missouri.”