April 22, 2015 — The Colorado House on Monday voted 37-26 to pass a measure (HB 15-1194) that would allocate $5 million in funding to continue a family planning program in the state, the Durango Herald reports.
The measure now proceeds to the state Senate (Marcus, Durango Herald, 4/20). However, some conservative Senate leaders remain opposed to the measure.
The program's funding is slated to expire June 30.
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.
Last week, the Colorado Joint Budget Committee voted to reject a $5 million funding provision that would have continued the program (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/16).
Editorial: Colo. Lawmakers Are Putting 'Ideology Over Pragmatics' on Family Planning Funding
"The numbers associated with making [IUDs] and birth-control implants available at little or no cost to young women with limited financial means [in Colorado] are telling: The program works, and it saves the state money," a Durango Herald editorial states.
However, the editorial states that efforts to "build on this success by using state money to fund and expand the program that has been paid for by a private grant that expires this summer ... have not been successful." The editorial explains that some lawmakers are putting "ideology over pragmatics." While the initiative "saves Colorado $5.85 in Medicaid funding for every dollar spent on the free birth control," the editorial notes, some lawmakers "are uncomfortable with the idea of paying for birth control for teenaged girls and young women, though the discomfort is based on the inaccurate assertion that IUDs are abortofacients."
The editorial notes that "[w]hen the LARC program began in Colorado, the abortion rate fell" by 42% among women ages 15 to 19 and by 18% among women ages 20 to 24 between 2009 and 2013, while the birth rate "dropped among projections for these populations by 29 percent and 14 percent, respectively." Further, the rate of LARC use among these groups "has increased from 5 percent to 19 percent," the editorial notes.
According to the editorial, lawmakers currently "are pushing a stand-alone bill through the Legislature" that would appropriate the $5 million in funding for the project. The editorial urges state lawmakers to pass the measure, noting that "the facts indisputably show that a state investment in [LARCs] is one that pays significant dividends for women, their families, communities and the state" (Durango Herald, 4/19).