November 19, 2015 — The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi in the next few weeks will become an official health care provider for insurers, including Medicaid, and soon will start providing covered contraception to patients, the Jackson Free Press reports.
The state Medicaid program covers contraception for beneficiaries, including oral contraception, the patch and the ring, as well as implants and intrauterine devices.
However, the physicians at Jackson Women's Health Organization currently must refer women elsewhere to receive contraceptive services. Patients receive contraceptive counseling and recommendations from JWHO staff, but they must seek care at another facility to obtain birth control.
For example, Sacheen Carr-Ellis -- one of the three physicians at JWHO -- said she sends patients younger than 21 years old to the University of Mississippi Medical Center's adolescent health center, where several types of birth control are offered. Meanwhile, patients over age 21 are referred to the public health department, although patients must often deal with long wait times and might not always receive their preferred form of contraception.
Carr-Ellis said, "It's very frustrating to come up with a great [contraceptive] plan for a woman and not offer it to her."
Details of Plan
The clinic will be registered with Medicaid by the end of the month, and plans to add other insurers soon. According to the Free Press, JWHO received a private grant to hire an employee to implement a system for billing insurers. The employee also is working to make sure JWHO complies with all the requirements for acting as a health care provider for insurers.
Once the clinic has trained staff to dispense birth control, JWHO will offer birth control options including oral contraception, the patch, the ring, implants and IUDs.
Carr-Ellis said removing barriers to post-abortion care will make it easier for women to obtain a comprehensive range of services. "I don't believe in (a) single kind of care -- we know that comprehensive care is better," she said. Further, she noted, "Why should women have to jump through so many hoops just to keep themselves healthy? It doesn't seem fair" (Dreher, Jackson Free Press, 11/18).