A recent article published by the Guttmacher Institute looked at the different capacities and roles of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and other Title X providers that focus on reproductive health. Recently, the Trump administration has been trying to make FQHCs the sole providers of publicly funded family planning care, while defunding other family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood. Both FQHCs and Planned Parenthood clinics are safety-net family planning centers, meaning they use federal, state and local funding sources to provide reduced-cost or free services. The proportion of clinics that are safety-net family planning sites is much greater for Planned Parenthood clinics compared to FQHCs. Although FQHCs are integral to providing rounded family care, they cannot be expected to take on the burden of patients that would need care if providers like Planned Parenthood were defunded.
To assess the burden FQHCs would face if they were to take on the patients of Planned Parenthood and other Title X clinics, the Guttmacher Institute analyzed 2015 data from all safety-net planning centers. The results showed FQHCs would be unable to properly meet the contraceptive needs of the population if they became the sole providers of care and the only recipients of Title X funds.
- 1 million new contraceptive clients would need to be served nationwide by FQHCs if all other providers stopped receiving Title X funds
- FQHCs in 41 states would have to at least double their contraceptive patient load to meet the demand
- 27 of the 41 states would have to at least triple their case load
- 2,000 counties currently have a Title X site and 33% of them are not a FQHC, meaning a third of those counties would lose a contraceptive provider completely if only FQHCs were funded
An additional complication is that FQHCs cannot specialize in reproductive health. Not only would these new patients be coming in for contraceptive health care, they would also need to be offered all other services such as vaccines, dental care, and mental health care. The difficulty in maintaining quality reproductive care, while increasing the capacity to deliver these additional services, should not be overlooked. Lastly, the GOP healthcare bill recently passed by the House of Representatives would result in an estimated 24 million people losing insurance coverage. This would increase the need for publicly funded services such as Title X clinics, which would cause even more pressure on FQHCs. To provide comprehensive reproductive health care to as many women as possible, FQHCs along with Planned Parenthood clinics and other safety-net providers, need to be federally funded and supported.
See the full article here: https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2017/05/federally-qualified-health-centers-vital-sources-care-no-substitute-family-planning
– Erica Bentz Freese, MPH Student Intern