January 11, 2015 — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has proposed a program that would help provide long-acting reversible contraception to women who have little or no health insurance, the Washington Post's "D.C. Politics" reports.
The program requires approval from the Virginia Legislature, whose legislative session begins Jan. 13. A spokesperson for the state House and Senate said state lawmakers would consider the proposed program as part of the budget process.
Existing LARC Programs in Va.
Several jurisdictions in Northern Virginia have already expanded access to LARC using private grants, "D.C. Politics" reports. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department, said LARC use has increased considerably among patients since Alexandria started a LARC program in 2013. A large majority of the women who come to the family planning clinic are uninsured, according to Haering.
He noted that it would be challenging to continue the program without federal funding.
New LARC Program Details
The proposed program would fund the full cost of LARC, including intrauterine devices and skin implants, for eligible women. It would also fund outreach, clinician training and research on the program's effects. Women would be able to obtain the LARCs at Virginia Department of Health centers. According to "D.C. Politics," the state does not require parental consent for minors to have LARC implanted.
The program would be funded by a $9 million federal grant.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who announced the program on Friday, noted a similar program in Colorado that contributed to a 40% drop in the teenage birthrate from 2009 to 2013. That effort reduced the state's health-care expenditures by $42.5 million, according to the Colorado governor's office.
Northam said, "This is all about educating and empowering women to decide when and if they become pregnant." He added, "When women have access to this contraception, they choose on their own time when to start a family."
Noting that the program could face opposition from conservative state lawmakers, Northam continued, "I remind all women in the Commonwealth of Virginia that a group of legislators, most of whom are men, shouldn't be telling women what they should and shouldn't do with their bodies" (Weiner, "D.C. Politics," Washington Post, 1/8).