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Successful Colo. Family Planning Program Faces Uncertain Future

Successful Colo. Family Planning Program Faces Uncertain Future

December 2, 2014 — Colorado Democrats are fighting to continue funding for a program credited with lowering the state's teen birth rate amid some Republicans' resistance to continuing the program, the AP/Denver Post reports.

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative offers no- or low-cost long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants, to low-income women at 68 clinics throughout the state. The initiative was established as a five-year pilot program through a $25 million private donation. To continue, the program needs $5 million in state funding.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and the state's chief medical officer, Larry Wolk, have credited the pilot program with helping to lower the state's teen birth rate by 40% between 2009 and 2013. They also noted that the number of abortions has dropped in the counties participating in the program.

Prospects for Funding

Hickenlooper's budget proposal includes a funding request to continue the program. However, the request will need to come from a standalone bill because Colorado law prohibits state money from back-filling initiatives launched with private funding, according to state Joint Budget Committee Chair Sen. Kent Lambert (R).

According to the governor's budget letter, the state can save about $40 million in Medicaid costs for prenatal, labor and delivery care if about 5,500 low-income Colorado women can access LARC.

The funding measure stands a good chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled state House, according to the AP/Post. However, its fate in the state Senate, which will be controlled by Republicans for the first time in 10 years, is less certain.

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R) said the matter is about "the most critical issue of protecting life" and claimed that IUDs induce abortion.

Wolk said that Lundberg's notion is "not medically correct" and that IUDs prevent fertilization. Wolk also said that the program is "an issue of health" and "not a political issue" (Moreno, AP/Denver Post, 11/28).