Rep. Benson Votes to Fund Health Clinics Endangered by Federal Policy Changes to Title X Program

BOSTON – State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) voted Wednesday to make up to $8 million in funding available to reproductive health and family planning clinics in Massachusetts. The move to support the dozens of clinics across the state comes after the Trump Administration issued a new regulation that would effectively cut all federal funding for any reproductive health clinic that also provides abortion services.

The House of Representatives passed the supplemental funding bill, H.3638, by a 140-14 margin. In addition to appropriating up to $8 million to support Title X health clinics through June of 2020, the bill also requires the Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance to issue quarterly reports on expenditures to health centers receiving the funding.

“75,000 people in Massachusetts depend on health centers that receive Title X funds for reproductive care, preventive screening, and treatment. These are mostly women, mostly low-income, and many of them live in rural areas with limited access to health care,” said Representative Benson, who serves as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’m proud that the House has stepped in to make up the funding deficit that will be caused by this irresponsible and unnecessary policy decision at the federal level. I’m grateful to Speaker DeLeo and Ways and Means Chairman Michlewitz for their leadership and commitment to preserving Title X health centers.”

The federal Title X Family Planning Program was established in 1970, and provides grants to health clinics to fund contraception, cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease testing, and other services for mostly low-income people. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, at the direction of the Trump Administration, issued new regulations that would prohibit Title X from giving funding to providers who offer or refer patients to abortion services. The regulation put thousands of health care centers across the United States in danger of closing, including 93 in Massachusetts.