Earlier this year, the Tennessee Department of Health lost its Title X funding, over $7 million in Federal funds to provide family planning services throughout the state health department locations. The state legislature replaced those Federal funds with state funds. However, because of the funding shift and Tennessee’s Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act, passed in 2012, the health department locations across Tennessee will no longer be able to provide family planning services to anyone unable to provide documentation of their citizenship or immigration status.
The Health Department provides critical health services, including family planning services, to thousands of people each year, and they are a vital partner for A Step Ahead Chattanooga. As a result of this change, many Tennesseeans will have a significantly more difficult time accessing contraception.
People in our community who are no longer eligible for family planning services at the Health Department will likely have considerably longer wait times as other medical providers work to fill the gap, leaving them at risk for unintended pregnancy or adverse health outcomes. They may have to drive farther to get to a provider who offers the contraceptive method that is right for them. It may also be significantly more expensive for those individuals to receive services at other clinics. The Health Department provides Family Planning Services on a sliding scale based on income. Nobody is ever turned away for their inability to pay. It will take a while for us to understand the implications of this shift in funding fully, but we know that it will be devastating for many Tennesseeans and inhibit their ability to readily access contraception and get pregnant on their terms.
At A Step Ahead Chattanooga, we believe everyone should have access to high-quality health care, accurate information about their bodies, and the contraceptive method that is right for them, regardless of their ability to provide documentation of their citizenship or immigration status. We remain committed to ensuring that everyone in our region can access the birth control method that is right for them and will continue working towards that end.
If you are able, please consider making a donation to ensure that we can continue providing timely and equitable access to family planning services.
Finally, we encourage our supporters to remind their representatives of contraceptive access’s impact on our state’s success. For every $1 invested in family planning programs, taxpayers save approximately $7.09. Research performed by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health show that expanded contraceptive access results in many positive outcomes – increased educational attainment, higher wages, reduced healthcare costs, improved maternal and infant health, reduced reliance on public safety nets, reduced child poverty, reduced adverse childhood experiences, and more.
Easy and equitable access to contraception is critical to ensuring that Tennessee is a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Thank you for your support,
Executive Director, A Step Ahead Chattanooga