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Fiscal Year 2019 Program Priorities

Each year the OPA establishes program priorities that represent overarching goals for the Title X program. Program priorities derive from Healthy People 2020 Objectives and from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) priorities. Project plans should be developed that address the 2019 Title X program priorities, and should provide evidence of the project’s capacity to address program priorities as they evolve in future years.

The 2019 program priorities are as follows:

Title X Priorities include all of the legal requirements covered within the Title X statute, regulations, and legislative mandates. All applicants must comply with the requirements regarding the provision of family planning services that can be found in the statute (Title X of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 300 et seq.) and the implementing regulations (42 CFR part 59, subpart A), as applicable. In addition, sterilization of clients as part of the Title X program must be consistent with 42 CFR part 50, subpart B (“Sterilization of Persons in Federally Assisted Family Planning Projects”).

Title X Statute and Regulations

Title X of the Public Health Service Act (the Act) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to entities to provide family planning services to those desiring such services, with priority given to persons from low-income families. Therefore, in order to ensure that all prospective low income clients are able to access services, no charge will be made for services to persons from a low-income family (families whose annual incomes do not exceed 100 percent of the most recent federal poverty guidelines), except to the extent that payment will be made by a third party, including a government agency, which is authorized or under legal obligation to pay this charge. For persons whose annual family incomes do not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, charges must be based on a schedule of discounts, and individuals whose family incomes exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are charged a schedule of fees designed to recover the reasonable cost of providing services. All Title X projects must have the ability to bill third parties (through public or private insurance) for the cost of services without the application of discounts, and reasonable efforts must be made to collect charges without jeopardizing client confidentiality.

Section 1001 of the Act, as amended, authorizes grants “to assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning projects which shall offer a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents).” Natural family planning methods are now referred to as fertility awareness-based methods.

Family planning includes a broad range of services related to achieving and preventing pregnancy, assisting women, men, and couples with achieving their desired number and spacing of children. A broad range of acceptable and effective methods of family planning services including, contraception must be provided within each funded applicant’s project, and the project must also include meaningful provision of fertility awareness-based methods (FABM) by including access to providers with training specific to these methods. Entities that provide only one method of family planning can participate as part of a project, as long as the entire project provides a broad range of family planning methods. A broad range of family planning services should include several categories of methods, such as: abstinence counseling, hormonal methods (oral contraceptives, rings and patches, injection, hormonal implants, intrauterine devices or systems), barrier methods (diaphragms, condoms), fertility awareness-based methods and/or permanent sterilization. A “broad range” would not necessarily need to include all categories, but should include hormonal methods since these are requested most frequently by clients and among the methods shown to be most effective in preventing pregnancy.

Services for adolescents must be provided as a part of the broad range of family planning services. Section 1001 of the statute requires that, to the extent practicable, Title X applicants shall encourage family participation in family planning services projects. This is particularly important in relation to adolescents seeking family planning services. Basic infertility services and services to aid individuals and couples in achieving pregnancy also must be provided within the project as part of the broad range of family planning services. Pregnancy information and counseling must be provided in accordance with Title X regulations.

Services must be provided in a manner that protects the dignity of individuals, and services must be voluntary and free from coercion. Projects must not discriminate in the provision of services, on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, number of pregnancies, or marital status.

Family planning medical services must be performed under the direction of a physician with special training or experience in family planning, and each family planning project must refer to other medical facilities when medically indicated, including in medical emergencies. Projects must also provide informational and educational programs that inform the community about the availability of services, and should promote participation in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the project by persons broadly representative of the community to be served. Informational and educational materials made available through the project must be approved by an Advisory Committee that conforms to Title X regulations. The review of materials must take into account the educational and cultural background of individuals for whom the materials are intended, must consider the standards of the population or community, must ensure that the content is factually correct and is suitable for the intended population or community. The review and approval of such materials must be documented. Section 1008 of the Act, as amended, requires, “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.

Legislative Mandates

The following legislative mandates have been part of the Title X appropriations language for a number of years. In addition, FY2019 appropriation language states that funds would be available “Provided, that amounts provided to said projects under such title shall not be expended for abortions, that all pregnancy counseling shall be nondirective, and that such amounts shall not be expended for any activity (including the publication or distribution of literature) that in any way tends to promote public support or opposition to any legislative proposal or candidate for public office.” Title X family planning services should include administrative, clinical, counseling, and referral services as well as training of staff necessary to ensure adherence to these requirements.

  • None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be made available to any entity under Title X of the PHS Act unless the applicant for the award certifies to the Secretary of Health and Human Services that it encourages family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and that it provides counseling to minors on how to resist attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities;” and
  •  “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no provider of services under Title X of the PHS Act shall be exempt from any State law requiring notification or the reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.

OPA expects every Title X project will comply with applicable state laws in the proposed service area and will have project-wide monitoring and state-specific policies and procedures related to reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. These policies and procedures will include details related to:

  1. Annual staff training on policies and procedures,
  2. Implementation of policies,
  3. Applicant monitoring throughout the project to ensure training and state-specific reporting is being followed, and
  4. Maintenance of documentation concerning compliance.

These efforts will ensure clear understanding of and compliance with reporting processes, as well as permitting oversight and monitoring. In addition, any minor who presents with an STD, pregnancy, or any suspicion of abuse will be subject to preliminary screening to rule out victimization. Such screening is required for any individual who is under the age of consent in the State of the proposed service area.

Key Issues

While the requirements derived from statute, regulations, and legislative mandates described above are program priorities, there are additional key issues that represent overarching goals for the Title X program. These are determined based on priorities set by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) and the Office of the Secretary (OS) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Applicants should provide documentation of how they will address these key issues in their application. The FY 2019 key issues are as follows:

  1. Assuring innovative quality family planning and related preventive health services that lead to improved reproductive health outcomes and overall optimal health, which is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Guidance regarding the delivery of quality family planning services is spelled out in the April 25, 2014, MMWR, Providing Quality Family Planning Services: Recommendations of CDC and the U.S. Office of Population Affairs. Periodic updates have been made to this publication and are available at https://www.hhs.gov/opa/guidelines/clinical-guidelines/index.html. It is expected that the core family planning services listed in the Program Description, and which also are included in the Quality Family Planning Services document referenced above, will be provided by each project;
  2. Providing the tools necessary for the inclusion of substance abuse disorder screening into family planning services offered by Title X applicants;
  3. Following a model that promotes optimal health outcomes for the client (physical, mental and social health) by emphasizing comprehensive primary health care services, along with family planning services preferably in the same location or through nearby referral providers;
  4. Providing resources that prioritize optimal health outcomes (physical, mental, and social health) for individuals and couples with the goal of healthy relationships and stable marriages as they make decisions about preventing or achieving pregnancy;
  5. Providing counseling for adolescents that encourages sexual risk avoidance by delaying the onset of sexual activity as the healthiest choice, and developing tools to communicate the public health benefit and protective factors for the sexual health of adolescents found by delaying the onset of sexual activity thereby reducing the overall number of lifetime sexual partners;
  6. Communicating the growing body of information for a variety of fertility awareness-based methods of family planning and providing tools for applicants to use in patient education about these methods;
  7. Fostering interaction with community and faith-based organizations to develop a network for client referrals when needs outside the scope of family planning are identified;
  8. Accurately collecting and reporting data, such as the Family Planning Annual Report (FPAR), for use in monitoring performance and improving family planning services;
  9. Promoting the use of a standardized instrument, such as the OPA Program Review Tool, to regularly perform quality assurance and quality improvement activities with clearly defined administrative, clinical, and financial accountability for applicants and subrecipients; and
  10. Increasing attention to CDC screening recommendations for chlamydia and other STDs (as well as HIV testing) that have potential long-term impact on fertility and pregnancy.
Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on November 16, 2018