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Internists Concerned Changes to Title X Will Restrict Access to Health Care for Vulnerable Populations, Undermine Patient-Physician Relationship

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, FACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (May 23, 2018) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) is concerned that the government’s proposed changes to the Title X Family Planning program will harm patients by interfering with the patient-physician relationship. Title X is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to providing vulnerable, often working, women and men with low-income and limited to no access to health insurance with effective needed health care services such as family planning and cancer screenings.

The administration’s proposed rule will unacceptably deny grant funding to clinics unless they agree to restrictions on the services and advice clinicians can offer to their patients. This intrusion into the sacred patient-physician relationship must not be allowed.

The administration’s proposed policy changes to the Title X Family Planning program would significantly limit access to care for millions of Americans. By discriminating against clinics unless they agree to unacceptable intrusions on the patient-doctor relationship, many may be forced to close or curtail their services. For millions of patients, clinics funded partially through Title X grants are the only available source of comprehensive cancer screening, vaccinations, and family planning services. Already strained community health centers are not able to take up the slack if these clinics were forced to close. ACP’s longstanding health and ethics policy supports access to quality, accessible, and affordable health care.

Should this proposed rule go into effect, I know countless patients who will face uncertainty. Many will not have an alternative source of care available in their community, may be uncertain as to where they could go for care, or may choose to forgo preventive care or other services altogether, putting their health at risk. 

The administration’s proposed policy changes are outdated and would turn back the clock on women’s health care, patient-centered care, and informed shared decision-making instead of propelling it forward. ACP calls on the administration to focus on policies that promote accessible health care for all Americans, including those protected by Title X, and to withdraw its proposal to restrict federal funding from clinics where physicians and other health care professionals provide legally permitted health care services to patients in need. 

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 152,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org