HHS is providing $ 35 million to expand telemedicine as part of Title X Family Planning

The U.S. Department of Health (HHS) will provide $ 35 million in aid to improve the telehealth capabilities of family planning providers, the agency announced last week.

Funding under the American Rescue Plan Act will go to approximately 60 Title X family planning providers to improve and expand telehealth services for their patients.

Title X family planning providers provide reproductive health care, including pregnancy testing and STI prevention, for mostly low-income patients.

Many Title-X clinics have launched telehealth programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, some clinics, especially in low-income communities, may not have the resources to invest in telemedicine.

“During the global COVID-19 pandemic, family planning programs have accelerated the adoption of telemedicine,” Rachel Levine, MD, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, said in one opinion. “These ARP funds will make it easier to deliver quality family planning services and lower barriers to entry for American people who rely on the health care safety net for services.”

The Population Affairs Bureau is currently funding 71 Title X scholars who support thousands of service sites, according to HHS.

The agency accepts applications for grants until February 3, 2022.

“I’ve seen firsthand the critical role telemedicine plays in serving communities, especially in protecting so many families from COVID-19. As providers moved from personal primary care to offering telehealth services, we were able to test, vaccinate and act as a lifeline for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Increasing our investment and access to telehealth services remains crucial, “HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This investment is another step in bringing telemedicine to all Americans.”

HHS also announced last week $ 7.5 billion in COVID-19 aid under the American Rescue Plan Act available to rural providers.

RELATED: HHS Provides $ 7.5 Billion in Relief to Rural Providers to COVID-19 Relief Fund

Rural providers are harder hit than most during the pandemic. The CARES bill, passed last year, offered all providers $ 178 billion in aid, but the grants were based on Medicare entitlements, while rural facilities often rely on other government programs like Medicaid.

While around 60 providers receive grants specifically for telehealth services in the context of family planning under Title X, more than 40,000 providers in rural areas will benefit from the 7.5 billion US dollars.

The grants are based on applications from the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance programs from January 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.

“The infusion of these funds will be critical to ensuring that rural communities have access to quality health care and meet urgent needs like recruitment and retention,” Becerra said in a statement to the News.

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