HHS unveils Title X grant process for 2018 after delay
The Trump administration on Friday announced the beginning of this year's application process for family planning providers to receive crucial federal funding from the Title X program.
Officials said the funds will be distributed in September, raising questions as to how some recipients will make do when their current grants are set to expire at the end of March.
HHS' acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, Valerie Huber, assured reporters on Friday that family planning clinics that provide abortion services will be eligible for the new funding under the new guidelines.
Huber said the HHS wants to expand the program to include entities and services that may have not been eligible for funding in the past. The Title X program will use a new "streamlined" process and consider applicants based on whether they fill service gaps in their areas.
Eligible services for grant funding include family planning services that offer "natural family planning methods" or "fertility awareness," a family-planning technique that tracks a woman's ovulation to avoid pregnancy. The method has a failure rate of up to 25%, according to information on HHS' website.
The requirement does not mention birth control.
Title X grants fund clinics that provide family planning and preventive health services for low-income and uninsured individuals. This year's application process announcement was supposed to take place by Nov. 1, 2017, with grants awarded by April.
The announcement delay leaves providers with a funding gap between April and September, and some may exhaust their funds soon.
"We recognize that we didn't meet the estimated deadline that we had posted," Huber said. "But I will say that this is a program that is important to the administration and we think it's really important that we make some meaningful changes to hopefully expand and extend the coverage of this program."
Huber said the agency was communicating with current grantees to ensure they apply for extensions to their funding until the new grants are awarded.
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