Some NYC nonprofits to refuse Title X funds if ‘gag rule’ goes into effect

Two New York City not-for-profit health organizations that receive Title X funding plan to reject federal aid if the government’s rule to limit abortion care goes into effect, the groups’ leaders said on Tuesday.

Public Health Solutions — a direct recipient and local administrator of Title X funds — and sub-recipient Community Healthcare Network will take steps to refuse funding if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals settles on an outcome unfavorable to them.

“We will not operate under this rule,” said Lisa David, president and CEO of Public Health Solutions, adding that pending the full Ninth Circuit’s review, things were “operating as normal.”

Public Health Solutions receives $4.6 million in Title X funding annually and distributes it among its own centers and other sub-recipients, a representative said. Community Healthcare Network receives an annual total of $700,000 in funds, in part from Public Health Solutions, according to CEO Robert Hayes.

“We’re not going to commit malpractice here. We’re not going to lie to patients,” said Hayes, who affirmed that for now, care is continuing as usual.

Under the restriction put in place by the Trump administration, commonly called the "gag rule" by critics, any health care center that offers information about, performs, or refers abortions will no longer be eligible for Title X funding. The move drew the ire of women’s reproductive care advocates, who challenged the rule in court. The appeal in the Ninth Circuit consists of a several lawsuits brought by states and organizations opposing what they deem a threat to women’s reproductive health care.

There are 22 total Title X recipients in New York City, 10 of which belong to the Health + Hospitals network.

While the city has said it would offset lost Title X funding for its Health + Hospitals system, the fate of the remaining 12 Title X recipients has remained unclear. The state has authorized up to $16 million in provisions that could potentially cover their losses if they forgo funding, according to a budget report, though Title X is not cited explicitly.

David expressed her concern over those provisions, should emergency funding be needed.

"$16 million in the state budget … is not a lot of money," she said. " … What I worry about is disruption in services, not that it won’t ultimately be funded.”

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Mount Vernon) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) have sponsored legislation to "ensure the continuity of family planning services in the state," the bill says, though no dollar amount is currently attached to it. It passed the New York State Senate in June but the Assembly failed to vote on it before the legislative session ended.

The Door, another local organization that receives Title X funds, affirmed its stance against the rule, but did not say if the organization would outright refuse federal funds should the rule go into effect. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is part of the legal challenge in the Ninth Circuit, and its local outfit, Planned Parenthood of New York City, said it would shun Title X funds in that same scenario. 

Hayes, for his part, wasn’t sure where the money would come from should Community Healthcare refuse Title X. But he remained optimistic.

“I have no doubt that when you do the right thing, support follows,” he said.