What is Title X Funding? Title X is a federal grant distributed to states to fund family planning clinics, including contraceptive information and services, annual well-woman exams, STD testing and treatment and HPV testing and vaccinations. Low income men and women can access Title X services on a sliding fee scale. More information about Title X here.
The Nebraska Legislature is attempting to cut Title X funding for stand alone reproductive health clinics, and they’re doing it through the back door. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee made a small, but crucial change to this year’s appropriations bill, LB327. That change prioritizes Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), hospitals, and local health departments for Title X Funding. Clinics that would not be prioritized and could lose their funding include
* Central Health Center in Grand Island and Kearney
* Family Health Services in Southeast Nebraska serving Crete, Lincoln, and other small communities
* People’s Family Health Services in North Platte
* Planned Parenthood in Omaha and Lincoln
Under this proposal, women in North Platte (where I grew up) would need to travel to Gering (172 miles) or Hastings (153 miles) to access Title X services. The clinics listed above currently serve 14,500 unduplicated patients and would lose over $1 million in federal funding. This is not a program which affects the Nebraska budget. The money is a pass-through from the federal government.
I believe it is clear that Governor Ricketts and Lt. Governor Foley are attempting to cut several family planning clinics out of the budget to support their personal anti-woman and anti-reproductive freedom agendas. They did not do it through a bill which would have required a public hearing on the matter. Instead, they inserted it (buried it) in the 138 page appropriations bill, hoping that no one would notice. The Appropriations Committee asked the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to give the Committee a reason for the change from previous years’ Title X funding. DHHS has failed to provide that answer or a response. It is key to remember that DHHS works under the Executive branch of government, and their Director reports directly to the Governor.
Can FQHCs, hospitals, and local health departments serve the 14,500 patients currently being served by stand alone Title X clinics? FQHCs in Lincoln and Omaha have waiting lists; they refer their family planning patients to stand alone Title X clinics. Hospitals in many cities do not serve family planning patients. Many local health departments only provide vaccinations, not family planning serves. I do not believe these 14,500 patients can be served by other Title X providers.
This provision was debated in the Unicameral. Today on a 17-19 vote Senators voted down Amendment 1198 which would have eliminated this discriminatory provision. 25 votes are needed to amend the bill. As you can see from the vote today, many Senators chose not to vote. Senator Chambers then filibustered on the Motion to Reconsider Amendment 1198. After a very long day, LB327 advanced. There are still two more votes before the LB327 becomes final. Please call your State Senator and ask them to strike this offensive provision in LB327. Links to your Senator’s webpage can be found here.
The reproductive health of low-income men and women across the State of Nebraska is at stake. Please call your Senator before it is too late.