Does Title X Funding Enhance Clinic Services?

Recent decades have seen both a growing need for publicly subsidized family planning services and repeated threats to federal funding for such care, so an assessment of whether the Title X program provides expanded access to sexual and reproductive health services is useful. In an analysis of data collected in 2010, Heike Thiel de Bocanegra and colleagues did just that: They examined whether Title X funding among California providers was associated with improved availability of services. What they found was reassuring.

The authors surveyed more than a thousand public and private providers, encompassing Planned Parenthood and community clinics, federally qualified health centers and private medical practices. They found that Title X‒funded public clinics were significantly more likely than other public clinics or private providers to offer extended clinic hours (on evenings and weekends) and outreach to vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations (e.g., adolescents, males and sexual minorities). In addition, these clinics were more likely to employ advanced technologies, such as electronic recordkeeping, online scheduling and appointment reminders by text or e-mail.

The take-home message: California clinics that received Title X funding reduced barriers to care and facilitated access to services. The researchers found that such funding allowed clinics to invest beyond their core medical services and, in combination with health care reform that supports clinical care, could be effective in enhancing family planning services nationwide. Given the continuing threats to undermine Title X, findings like these may help bolster political support for essential sexual and reproductive health services.

Cover illustrations of Margaret Sanger © Matthew and Eve Levine