Title X Federal Funding Awarded to Essential Access Health to Immediately Restore and Expand Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Across Hawai'i
Amy Moy / 415.518.4465 / firstname.lastname@example.org
January 21, 2022 – Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an award of $1.5 million to Essential Access Health to address the dire need for family planning services in Hawai'i. There is currently no federal or state funding allocated to support the delivery of equitable, affordable, client-centered, and high quality sexual and reproductive health services in the state.
As a result of the Trump Administration’s 2019 harmful Title X rule, more than 1,200 family planning providers in 34 states withdrew from the program. Numerous states were left either with no Title X-funded programs or with programs unable to serve the entirety of their service region. Prior to the 2019 rule taking effect, the Hawai'i Department of Health served as the statewide grantee.
It is estimated that more than 65,000 women in Hawai'i are in need of Title X-supported services. Without Title X funding, access to high-quality family planning services for residents of Hawai'i with low incomes has been significantly reduced. The lack of availability of Title X services disproportionately impacts underserved groups such as Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, particularly adolescents and rural residents who already face structural and systemic barriers to accessing family planning and other essential health services.
Essential Access Health has served as a Title X grantee since the program was established in 1970 with bi-partisan support. Essential Access Health will leverage over 50 years of experience and leadership in the Title X system nationwide, to immediately begin supporting the delivery of Title X-funded services at 7 health care organizations operating 12 clinic sites to meet the family planning needs of uninsured residents and individuals with low-incomes on Oʻahu, Maui, and the Big Island. Title X funding will also support critical infrastructure needs that are not reimbursable under Med-Quest or commercial insurance, such as staff salaries, patient education, training and technical assistance, culturally responsive community-level outreach and education, and quality improvement activities. Hawai'i's diverse statewide Title X provider network – including federally qualified health centers, the University of Hawai'i, and Planned Parenthood - is projected to initially serve more than 14,000 family planning patients annually.
“We are honored to work with a broad range of trusted partners to re-introduce Title X in Hawai'i and increase access to essential and time sensitive family planning care like birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, and cancer screenings, in communities across the state,” said Julie Rabinovitz, Essential Access Health’s President and CEO. “We look forward to making access to Title X services a reality in Hawai'i once again.”
Local organizations are celebrating the return of Title X funding and services to Hawai'i:
“Since we opened the doors of Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center nearly 30 years ago, we have worked to effectively and efficiently meet the health needs of our patients and community,” said BJ Ott, CEO of Community Clinic of Maui. “The return of Title X funding will bring back critical resources that will enhance our capacity to deliver high quality family planning care in-person and through telehealth, and provide education, counseling, and access to affordable contraception for low-income patients. We are pleased to partner with Essential Access Health to restore reproductive autonomy for individuals and quickly make use of the new funding available to help improve community health and well-being.”
"Working with Essential Access Health allows us to leverage their expertise in working with federally-qualified health centers, which gives our members the flexibility to focus on the care their communities need, care which is unique to the populations they serve and that varies from island to island," said Dr. Robert Hirokawa, CEO of the Hawai'i Primary Care Association. "It also allows us to focus on outreach, which is critical at a time when our communities are in dire need of healing."
“This funding could not come at a more crucial time,” said Rebecca Gibron, Acting CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “Patients have gone without critical reproductive health care since 2019, when Trump’s unethical gag rule stripped Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers of federal funding. The burden of limited access to reproductive health has fallen the hardest on Native Hawaiians, immigrants, communities of color, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, and young people. We are grateful that the Biden Administration reversed the gag rule and HHS has awarded these funds to Essential Access Health to support ensuring every person has access to sexual and reproductive health care, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or whether they have health insurance.”
“We are excited that with the return of Title X funding, our institution will be able to continue providing high-quality family planning services to medically underserved areas on Hawai'i Island,” said Farrah-Marie Gomes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo (UH Hilo). “Our college students are part of a high-need population that we are able to provide care for, while also extending those services to meet the needs of community members that qualify for the services. In this way, UH Hilo is able to assist with some of the burden that community providers are shouldering. It is an honor to partner with Essential Access Health to help meet the needs of our campus and broader community.”
Essential Access Health champions and promotes quality sexual and reproductive health care for all. The organization currently leads California’s statewide Title X provider network - the largest Title X system in the nation - and will begin supporting the delivery of Title X-funded services across Hawai'i in January of 2022.