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Letter to the Hon. Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services - Democrats Call for Reversal of Trump Administration's Gag Rule


Dear Secretary Azar,

Over the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided minimal and conflicting guidance to health care providers about how and when the Department intends to enforce the Trump Administration's Title X rule. This rule will undermine the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers receiving Title X funding. It will also needlessly compromise health care for the millions of people who rely on the critical services provided by those centers, including comprehensive family planning and screening for diseases such as HIV and cancer.

In light of this dangerous impact and the many concerns raised by health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders throughout the development of this rule, we believe the rule should be rescinded.

For decades, Title X-funded clinics have provided high quality health care to patients. The historically bipartisan program is intended to offer a full range of confidential and unbiased family planning services. Title X-funded clinics not only provide access to contraception, allowing women to choose whether and when to start a family, but also offer cancer and HIV screenings, STI screenings and treatment, and related preventive services. Four million patients who rely on Title X-funded programs now face limited options, as clinics and providers recognize the new regulation will force them to choose between receiving federal funds and upholding the confidential relationship between patient and health care provider. That is why health care providers, including the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and nearly half of all States have filed lawsuits against HHS to challenge this rule.

In fact, health care providers have indicated the ideology-based restrictions put them in the untenable position of deciding between offering substandard care and withdrawing from the program, potentially compromising health care access for the poor and low-income patients who rely on them. Six in ten of the women who obtain publicly funded contraceptive care at a safety-net health center, receive that care through a Title X-funded center. HHS should be seeking to increase access to contraceptive care, not advancing policies that sow confusion and make it harder for women to access the health care they need.

We urge you to reconsider this harmful rule and instead work with health care providers to maintain policies that will help ensure that women have access to the family planning services, cancer screenings, and STI screenings and treatment that they rely on Title X-funded clinics to provide. Please contact Laurel Sakai with Senator Murray's HELP Committee staff with any questions at (202) 224-7675.