April 13, 2015 — Colorado House lawmakers voted 35-30 to include $5 million in the state budget to continue a family planning program, the Denver Post reports.
According to the Post, the program's funding is slated to expire June 30 (Frank, Denver Post, 4/8).
The program, 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.
The initiative has provided more than 30,000 IUDs and other LARC methods to low-income, uninsured or underinsured Colorado women.
Since the initiative began, the state has saved about $23 million from averted Medicaid costs associated with births. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials have predicted the program could save the state up to $40 million in Medicaid costs that would otherwise go toward pre- and postnatal care.
Senate Funding Efforts
The state Senate has also approved a budget proposal that includes $5 million to continue funding the program (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/6).
However, according to state Joint Budget Committee Chair Sen. Kent Lambert (R), the $5 million must be must be funded through a standalone bill (HB 15-1194) rather than the budget because of a Colorado law prohibiting state money from back-filling initiatives launched with private funding (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/2/14). The House included funding in its proposed budget after it became apparent that the state Senate would not advance HB 15-1194, the Post reports.
House Amendment Could Stymie Budget Negotiations
According to the Post, the budget amendment could stall negotiations between the state House and Senate when the chambers meet to reconcile differences in the budget proposals.
To be included in the final version of the budget, the amendment must be approved by four of the six members of the Joint Budget Committee during the negotiations. In addition, the compromise budget measure will require signatures from two committee members of each chamber, including either Lambert (R) or state Sen. Kevin Grantham (R).
According to the Post, Lambert and Grantham both oppose the contraceptive coverage program. Further, Lambert, along with several other state lawmakers, has expressed concern that including the budget amendment could violate a law that bars changing substantive policy via the budget.
However, some lawmakers and Gov. John Hickenlooper's (D) administration have disputed such claims, contending that it would not violate the law because it is funding an existing state program (Denver Post, 4/8).