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Publicly Funded Family Planning Services in the United States: Term Definitions

Term Definitions

Medicaid is the joint federal-state program that finances health services for low-income individuals. Federal law requires family planning services and supplies to be covered for all program enrollees. Since the mid-1980s, it has been the single largest source of public dollars supporting family planning services and supplies nationwide. As such, the policies set by Medicaid are central to the delivery of publicly supported family planning in the United States.

Title X is the only national program dedicated to providing family planning services and supplies to low-income individuals. Although it provides less funding than Medicaid, it can pay for services and activities not covered under Medicaid, such as expanded counseling and outreach; it can fill the gap left by inadequate Medicaid reimbursement; and it can pay for individuals ineligible for Medicaid coverage, including many immigrants. Critically, Title X can support the provider infrastructure in ways that Medicaid simply cannot.

A family planning center is a site that offers contraceptive services to the general public and uses public funds, including Medicaid, to provide free or reduced-fee services to at least some clients. These sites may be operated by a diverse range of provider agencies, including public health departments, Planned Parenthood affiliates, hospitals, community health centers and other, nonprofit organizations. Some family planning centers specialize in the delivery of contraceptive services while others provide family planning in the broader context of primary care.