December 8, 2015 — Colorado health officials are seeking to fund a program that helps low-income women access long-acting reversible contraception using money from a general family planning budget request, the Durango Herald reports.
According to the Herald, the budget request is for more than $2.5 million and is subject to approval from the state Legislature (Marcus, Durango Herald, 12/4).
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative offers no- or low-cost LARCs, 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 private donation of about $25 million. The funding expired in July, and the program subsequently had longer waiting lists and was not able to offer as many services.
Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health show that the birth rates and abortion rates among teenagers in the state declined by 48% between 2009 and 2014. According to state officials, the program also has saved Medicaid roughly $79 million between 2010 and 2012.
The future of the program's funding remains unclear. In May, a Colorado Senate committee killed a measure (HB 15-1194) that would have provided $5 million in funding to continue the program. However, state officials have said the program would remain in place. In August, state officials announced that several organizations pledged a total of about $2 million to fund the program through June 30, 2016. CDPH officials said they were continuing to look for more permanent funding for the program (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/26).
Latest Funding Request
Instead of requesting funding for the LARC program specifically, CDPH filed a budget request to expand all family planning services, including contraception, preventive health services and testing for sexually transmitted infections. However, a "good portion of it would be directed toward LARC," according to CDPH Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Larry Wolk. He did not specify the exact amount that would be used for the LARC program.
There was debate during the last legislative session about whether the state could fund the LARC program though a funding package for all family planning services, or whether the LARC-specific funding had to be requested independently. According to the Herald, state officials are "confident," based on recent legal opinions, that they can fund the program via the broader funding request.
Explaining the rationale behind the broader request, Wolk stated, "You could say this is in response to some of those detractors, to say, 'Why not be more inclusive?' You could say we heard that, so we're trying to be more broad-based in our approach."
State Rep. Don Coram (R), who supported funding the program last session, said including the LARC funding as part of a broader funding request could reduce the politics around the issue (Durango Herald, 12/4).