HHS Emails With Anti-Abortion Provider Fuel Fight Over Title X Rule

By: Emily Martin, Inside Health Policy, December 6, 2019

Advocates pushing to block the Trump administration’s controversial Title X rule say a recent report revealing senior HHS officials helped an anti-abortion health clinic secure a family planning program grant, prior to implementation of the controversial rule banning providers offering abortions or abortion referrals from the funding, shows the administration’s extensive efforts to remold the Title X program in line with its anti-abortion stance.

Click here to view the Obria communications documents.

The report from the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) found that Trump-appointed officials, including the director of boards and admissions at HHS’ Office of the White House Liaison, collaborated with Obria Medical Clinics officials to help the group secure grant money. The clinics’ president, Clare Venegas, requested guidance during the grant application process in an email to then-associate director for policy for the assistant secretary of health, but made no mention of the group providing contraception or family planning services — an omission that CfA counsel Alice Huling said should have disqualified the group from Title X funding prior to the administration’s changes to the program.

But Huling said Obria was unclear in the application about the extent to which it would refer patients for birth control in order to comply with the Title X grant requirement. The group states on its website that it does not prescribe birth control or emergency contraception.

“If HHS continues funding a failing grantee, it must be held to account for improperly administering the Title X program,” Huling said.

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