On July 1, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DAS) and Director of the HHS Office of Population Affairs and HHS Office of Adolescent Health Jessica Swafford Marcella visited Boston to meet with the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Marylou Sudders, Commissioner Margret Cooke, several staff of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), reproductive health care providers, and Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD). Both MDPH and ABCD are Title X family planning program grantees.
MDPH and ABCD program leadership spoke to DAS Marcella about the need for high quality, affordable, and accessible reproductive health services in underserved communities and the work the Commonwealth is doing to protect access to reproductive health beginning with Governor Baker’s executive order to protect access to reproductive health care services. [In a roundtable session with reproductive health service providers, there was robust discussion on how providers are assuring client-centered care in the wake of so much uncertainty following the recent Supreme Court decision.
MDPH is a state agency that operates a Title X service network consisting of 81 clinics run by 16 organizations in at least 36 high-priority communities in seven regions across the state of Massachusetts. MDPH provides training, technical assistance, data collection, and evaluation services to subrecipients that provide trauma-informed, gender-inclusive care, referrals for specialty medical needs, health navigation insurance enrolment, outreach, and case management services. Subrecipients also provide contraceptive services, pregnancy testing and counseling, STI and HIV services, assistance with achieving pregnancy, preconception services, basic infertility services, related preventive health services, and adolescent-friendly services.
ABCD is a community action agency that was established in 1962 to empower disadvantaged people by providing them with the tools to overcome poverty. ABCD has participated in the Title X family planning program for 50 years. ABCD and its clinical partner serve low-income populations in Greater Boston as well as Central, North, South, and Western Massachusetts. New initiatives include extending services to members of exceptionally high-need groups, including sex workers and individuals with substance use disorders.
Today’s site visit builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s longstanding commitment to sustaining equitable, affordable, client-centered, and high-quality family planning services. This year, HHS awarded approximately $271.5 million in grant funding to restore access to Title X services nationwide and fill service gaps caused by more than a quarter of Title X providers withdrawing from the program over the past two and a half years in response to the previous administration’s Title X rule.
During the site visits DAS Marcella said, “Your programs have provided high-quality, accessible, and affordable sexual and reproductive health services to low-income residents of Massachusetts for many decades. Your work in providing these critical services and support is now more important than ever.”