Tampa Clinic Opts Out Of Title X Program Over Abortion Rule
Low-income patients in Hillsborough County are losing an option for receiving free family-planning care at the end of this month.
As of Sept. 30, Tampa Family Health Centers will no longer offer Title X services.
It's due to a new rule from the Trump Administration that bars federally-qualified health centers from receiving funding for the program if they provide or counsel patients about abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergency.
Title X is a federal program that offers low-income residents reproductive health care like birth control, pregnancy tests and cervical cancer screenings.
Many federally-qualified health centers like Tampa Family Health Centers feel the rule prevents their providers from counseling patients appropriately.
The change at the organization will affect about 2,700 patients, according to Allison Nguyen, program manger for the Office of Health Equity at the Department of Health in Hillsborough County.
"We're concerned with less access or reduced access to the different birth control methods, that we will see an increase in unplanned pregnancies, missed screenings for certain cancers and an increase in STD's," she said.
Tampa Family Health Centers will continue to provide reproductive care, but patients will have to pay at a sliding-scale cost.
Nguyen said prices could be as low as four dollars for some medications, but costs could be much higher for certain services, like getting long-acting reversible contraception, such as IUD's or implants.
Suncoast Health Community Health Centers will continue to participate in the Title X program and have agreed to accept all displaced patients seeking free care, but Nguyen acknowledged that may not be convenient for everyone.
"Certainly transportation could be a barrier for patients because the Suncoast Health centers are located in the eastern and southern parts of the county; whereas Tampa Family Health Centers are only located in Tampa," she explained.
The health department has a limited number of bus passes for people who can't afford their own transportation to Suncoast.
Nguyen said the county is also looking into whether health transportation programs offered by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft could be an option for displaced Title X patients.
If you have questions about the change you can contact DOH-Hillsborough at 813-307-8066.