August 4, 2014 — A change to Texas' Medicaid program and the state's Women's Health Program aims to increase access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, including intrauterine devices and implants, Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune reports.
Under the rule change by the state Health and Human Services Commission, participating physicians will be able to order LARC from three specialty pharmacies instead of from a drug wholesaler. Doing so will lower upfront costs for physicians because the pharmacies will be responsible for billing Medicaid and the Women's Health Program to cover the costs. The state hopes the change will result in more physicians offering LARC methods for those patients.
In addition, the rule allows physicians to return unopened LARC products through a "buyback" program. The products will be available at pharmacies in Houston, Fort Worth and Frisco and can be delivered by mail.
Linda Edwards Gockel, a spokesperson for HHSC, noted that paying upfront for LARC products "can be costly for [providers] because these products are fairly expensive."
Ob-Gyns Note Concerns
However, some ob-gyns are concerned that they have received few details about the program from the state. For example, they have not been told how to place orders or how long they must keep a product before they can return it through the buyback program.
Ob-gyn Tony Dunn, vice chair of the Texas branch of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and steering committee chair for the Texas Women's Healthcare Coalition, said, "I don't know how much of an improvement this will be or if it's going to exchange some headaches for other headaches." However, it "is a step in the right direction until we know all the details," he added (Ura, Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 7/31).