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Mike Pushkin: Title X services shouldn't be cut (Opinion)

Each year, nearly 70,000 people across the Mountain State rely on the federal program Title X to receive basic preventive health care that they otherwise may not have been able to access or afford. However, many folks are unaware of the breadth of services provided by this initiative at Title X funded health care centers across the state and country.

These health centers are often a critical access point for citizens who are covered by Medicaid, who are uninsured or underinsured, or who have lower annual incomes. In fact, nearly 26 percent of all Title X patients who utilized services in West Virginia last year were uninsured — that number is far higher than the statewide uninsured rate of 6 percent.

Accordingly, 4 million people across the country are served annually, and 65 percent of those patients have incomes under 100 percent of the federal poverty line. As you may know, around the United States, including here at home, women and men are receiving a variety of services, including counseling, wellness exams, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and cancer screenings.

As a state legislator, many of my constituents have expressed their appreciation for the services they’ve received at these facilities. And, they are immensely critical for some. In West Virginia, we take care of one another, and these services serve a definitive purpose in meeting that effort.

Congress passed Title X unanimously nearly 50 years ago. It is the only federal grant program that provides complete family planning and preventive health services with the purpose of helping create healthy families. Recipients of these funds are typically rural hospitals, community health centers, state and local health departments and other small health care entities that help under-served populations.

A recently released rule would cut funding, access and information provided by Title X centers. These facilities, and the people who receive services, need our help to ensure these facilities remain funded and they will be able to continue to access the medical attention and preventive care they need.

Title X centers are an essential link to bridging health care access to those who need it most.

In a rural state like West Virginia, these facilities are essential to delivering that care. It is vital that this program stay funded as it was intended so our people can access the services made available through these health care centers.

Mike Pushkin represents Kanawha County as a Democrat in the House of Delegates.

Funerals for Thursday, August 22, 2019

Booth, Paul - 2 p.m., Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Cummings, David - 1 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Gregor, Kathy - 5 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Lore, Madge - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Sanders, Wetzel - 2 p.m., McGhee-Handley Funeral Home, West Hamlin.

Stalnaker, Lillian - 11 a.m., Little Kanawha Memorial Gardens, Flatwoods.