PRESS RELEASE: Protecting Family Planning Services

CONTACT:
Mischa Sogut, 518-455-4941 or 202-365-5475; sogutm@nyassembly.gov

July 3, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ on Reproductive Health,
It’s Time for New York to Step Up

Cuomo Administration Should Release Funds to Replace
Federal “Title X” Money

Gottfried: Health Care Providers & Programs Shouldn’t Have to Choose between Keeping Government Funding or Restricting Info to Patients about Health Care            

New York State set aside $16 million in its budget in March for health care providers who might lose federal funding because of the Trump administration’s “gag rule” about abortion and reproductive health services. Now that the gag rule has taken effect, New York State Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried is calling on the Cuomo Administration to release that money immediately and make it available to health care providers.

The gag rule issued in March by the Trump administration bars family planning providers using federal funds (known as Title X funds) from offering patients information about birth control, abortion or even simply referring them to other health care programs that provide abortion. Although three federal district courts issued temporary injunctions staying the gag rule on the grounds that it could endanger health care for millions of patients around the country, a federal appeals court ruling lifted injunctions and the gag rule is now in effect. “To continue to provide proper professional health care,” said Gottfried, “health care providers have to lose their Title X funding.”

In anticipation of the gag rule, Assembly Member Gottfried and other legislators worked with Governor Cuomo’s administration to included money in the 2019 NYS budget legislation authorizing $16 million in State funds to support family planning providers in the event of lost federal Title X funding.

“Family planning providers understand that patient health comes first,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “New York prepared for the threat from the Trump administration and must keep its commitment and release the funding necessary to fill the Title X gap.”

Title X funding was established in 1970 to provide affordable birth control and reproductive health care to low-income people who otherwise could not afford the health care.

Following is Assembly Member Gottfried’s letter to State Budget Director Robert Mujica and State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

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July 2, 2019

Robert Mujica, Director
New York State Division of the Budget
State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12210  

Howard Zucker, MD, JD, Commissioner
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12237  

Re: Title X contingency funding  

Dear Mr. Mujica and Dr. Zucker:              

In anticipation of federal actions that would eviscerate the Title X Family Planning Program, the Legislature and the Governor included language in the 2019 budget legislation that authorizes the State to make up for the lost federal funding if it became necessary.              

Together, we believe that patient health must come first. With the new federal rule in effect, Title X provider may not even discuss with patients the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion. Proper professional care cannot be delivered if health care providers comply with the new Title X restrictions. New York must now keep its commitment and use the funds budgeted to fill the Title X gap.              

Under the budget language, $16 million “may be available upon a determination by the budget director, in consultation with the commissioner of health to provide financial assistance to health care providers in circumstances where the use of Federal monies is prohibited based on the core mission of those providers.”              

I urge you to make that determination immediately and provide that financial assistance.  

The New York City Health+Hospitals Corporation has announced that it will refuse the federal dollars in order to keep providing patients with the same standard of care. It is likely that other providers who rely on Title X funding will similarly turn down the federal dollars because of the harmful restrictions it now imposes.  

The Aid to Localities appropriation bill (Chapter 53 of 2019, page 711, emphasis added) states:  

“For services and expenses, including grants, related to emergency assistance distributions as designated by the commissioner of health. Notwithstanding section 112 or 163 of the state finance law or any other contrary provision of law, such distributions shall be limited to providers or programs where, as determined by the commissioner of health, emergency assistance is vital to protect the life or safety of patients, to ensure the retention of facility caregivers or other staff, or in instances where health facility operations are jeopardized, or where the public health is jeopardized or other emergency situations exist, and up to $16,000,000 may be available upon a determination by the budget director, in consultation with the commissioner of health to provide financial assistance to health care providers in circumstances where the use of Federal monies is prohibited based on the core mission of those providers (29874) ………………………………. 18,900,000″              

I urge you to make this determination immediately and provide the financial assistance to prevent irreparable disruption in the health care of the thousands of New Yorkers who rely on comprehensive services from Title X providers.  

Very truly yours,

Richard N. Gottfried
Chair, Committee on Health  

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