Providers blocked from discussing all reproductive healthcare options

The American Medical Association is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in to block a rule change to Title X family planning provisions—changes the AMA say would interfere with “open communications between patients and health care professionals.”

The action marks a historic first for the AMA: it has never before petitioned the Supreme Court.

The SCOTUS petition is the latest step in a legal battle the AMA launched last March when it filed a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration from implementing the rule change. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found the rule change invalid, but the Ninth Circuit upheld the rule. The AMA wants SCOTUS to block implementation until conflicts between those two rulings can be sorted out and the “Ninth Circuit’s erroneous decision is corrected,” the AMA said in a press release.

The AMA’s petition was joined by a wide range of advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Essential Access Health (EAH), and the Oregon Medical Association.

At issue is the AMA’s contention that the proposed changes to Title X amount to a gag order on the nation’s doctors that would bar them from discussing all reproductive healthcare options with patients who receive healthcare coverage from federally funded clinics.

“The AMA strongly believes that our nation’s highest court must step in to remove government overreach and interference in the patient-physician relationship. Restricting the information that physicians can provide to their Title X patients blocks honest, informed conversations about all health care options — an unconscionable violation that is essentially a gag rule,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, in a prepared statement. “As physicians and leaders in medicine, we are fighting against the government’s intrusion in the exam room while protecting open communication between patients and physicians, which is the foundation of high-quality medical care.”

The AMA said the “consequences of the rule are clear and stark — and already occurring.”

According to the AMA, about “one in every four Title X providers has withdrawn from the program in response to the rule’s implementation last year, ultimately jeopardizing care for 1.6 million patients nationwide. A recent U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) estimate supports these figures, acknowledging that Title X services sites decreased by 945 sites and the number of annual patients served in 2019 fell by 21% — despite the Title X rule being in effect for only a few months. In California, for example, it is projected that in 2020, there will be an almost 75% reduction in the number of patients served by Title X in the state. As of August 2020, six states are without any Title X site at all.”

In emphasizing Title X’s immense impact, the petition notes that “for six in 10 women who obtain contraceptive care at a Title X-funded site, that provider was their only source of medical care over the past year.”

Peggy Peck, Editor-in-Chief, BreakingMED™

Cat ID: 151

Topic ID: 88,151,191,41,192,151,590,925