Today, March 4, 2022, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra toured a community health center for youth and families and led two roundtable discussions emphasizing the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for family planning programs and mental health services. Throughout the trip, he engaged with state and federal leaders and health care workers who have supported their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary Becerra began his day at the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester, where he toured the facility with Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, State Senators Lou D’Allesandro, Kevin Cavanaugh, and Donna Soucy, Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, and leaders from the club. The Boys & Girls Club of Manchester has been an important community resource and has provided local youth with a safe place to thrive, which is critical to their well-being and mental health.
Later in the day, Secretary Becerra toured Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE), where he spoke with patients and providers about the Biden-Harris Administration’s unwavering support for Title X family planning programs. Following the tour of PPNNE, he led a roundtable discussion with Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, Congressman Chris Pappas, Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, and PPNNE stakeholders, where the group spotlighted the importance of protecting access to health care, including reproductive health care and the peace of mind that comes with it. Secretary Becerra heard directly from a patient who had gone to Planned Parenthood for years to access reproductive health services because she trusted them to provide empathetic and science-based care.
In October, HHS updated the previous Administration’s family planning rule, which kicked Planned Parenthood and other health centers out of the Title X program—stifling access to reproductive care. As a result of this update, Title X family planning funding has been restored to PPNNE and other health centers across the country.
Secretary Becerra reiterated HHS’s consistent support for protecting access to safe and legal abortions and highlighted reinvestments HHS has made in family planning under the Biden-Harris Administration. As a Title X Family Planning program federal grant recipient, PPNNE received $500,000 to Address Dire Needs for Family Planning Services in January 2022. This funding represents a share of the over $298 million HHS and the Biden-Harris Administration have allocated to bolster the Title X family planning program, which is dedicated to providing comprehensive family planning and related preventative health services, including breast and cervical cancer screening, contraceptive counseling and care, and STI/HIV testing.
“The Biden-Harris Administration understands that our nation’s family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, play a critical role in achieving the objectives the President laid out on Tuesday,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Secretary Becerra concluded the trip with a visit to Amoskeag Health, a federally qualified health center focused on behavioral health services—the first of many stops on his recently announced National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health. At Amoskeag, the Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion with Congressman Chris Pappas, Mayor Joyce Craig, Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, and other state leaders and clinic staff. The roundtable discussed new and innovative ways to address the mental health crisis, including Amoskeag’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team (ACERT) – a team comprised of a police officer, crisis services advocate, and behavioral health professional that is deployed to serve children who have been exposed to violence. Before the roundtable ended, Secretary Becerra emphasized that mental and behavioral health is a priority at HHS, one that has received a record-breaking $3 billion investment in recent months thanks to the American Rescue Plan.