The availability and use of publicly funded family planning clinics: U.S. trends, 1994-2001

Jennifer J Frost, Lori Frohwirth, Alison Purcell
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004, 36 (5): 206-15

CONTEXT: It is important to monitor trends among publicly funded family planning clinics to determine where clinics are successfully meeting the contraceptive service needs of low-income women and where more effort is needed.

METHODS: Service data for all U.S. agencies and clinics providing subsidized family planning services were collected for 2001 and compared with similar data collected for 1997 and 1994. Trends reflecting clinic structure and capacity were analyzed at the national and state levels. Client numbers were compared with numbers of women needing publicly funded contraceptive services to create a measure of met need for states and groups of states, according to Medicaid family planning waiver status.

RESULTS: In 2001, some 7,683 publicly funded family planning clinics provided contraceptive services to 6.7 million women-representing an 8% rise in clinics and a 2% increase in clients since 1994. Change varied by type of provider and clinic location. Health departments and Planned Parenthood affiliates served more clients at fewer sites; community health centers served fewer clients at more sites. One-third of states experienced growth in clinic capacity, with 5-65% increases in met need. In another third of states, met need declined by 5% or more. States with income-based Medicaid family planning waivers served 24% more clients, with met need increasing from 40% to 50%.

CONCLUSIONS: Among states, there has been tremendous variation in the ability of publicly funded family planning clinics to serve women. Implementation of income-based Medicaid family planning waivers in some states was associated with clinics' serving greater numbers of women. Further efforts are needed to ensure access to family planning services for low-income women in every state.

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