Representing Essential Access Health and Dr. Melissa Marshall, Keker, Van Nest & Peters last night filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing sweeping changes to the Title X Family Planning Program. The motion argues that the regulations are unconstitutional, violate current law, and will inflict incalculable harm on Title X patients throughout the nation. The court will hear the motion on April 18, 2019.
Essential Access Health is the Title X grantee for the state of California, and leads the largest and most comprehensive Title X system in the nation. Co-plaintiff Dr. Melissa Marshall is a family medicine doctor practicing at a Title X-funded health center in Yolo County, California. Without an injunction stopping the regulations from taking effect, Essential Access Health, Dr. Marshall, and countless other providers and patients will suffer immediate, irreparable harm.
If implemented, the regulations will dramatically reduce access to quality reproductive health care and disproportionately impact women and communities of color. The regulations would also grant the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unfettered discretion to determine which groups may participate in Title X. This will open the door for less qualified entities to receive federal funding, even if they refuse to offer the comprehensive family planning services that Congress designed the program to deliver.
“These regulations were clearly written to inject political ideology into medical care. They are not directed at fixing any real problem with the existing Title X program, widely considered one of the biggest public health achievements of the last century,” said Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO of Essential Access Health. “It’s outrageous that in 2019, the federal government is attempting to deny low-income patients across the country the essential services and information they need to make personal decisions about their health.”
“These regulations would dictate a different standard of care for low-income women seeking reproductive health services and promote unethical medical practices,” Dr. Marshall said. “My patients count on me to give them unbiased information about all of their options for care. The regulations would force me to violate the trust my patients have that I will give them the best care possible.”
Title X funding in California supports the delivery of essential health services including birth control, STD and pregnancy tests, and cancer screenings at over 360 health centers in 38 of California’s 58 counties that collectively serve 1,000,000 low-income individuals each year.
The case is Essential Access Health v. Alex Azar, 3:19-cv-01195, U.S.D.C., N.D. Cal. The Keker Van Nest & Peters team representing Essential Access Health is led by Michelle Ybarra, Tina Sessions, Sophie Hood, Philip Tassin, Sarah Salomon, Divya Musinipally, Kathryn Bowen.