Colorado contraception bill part of trend rising in face of health care uncertainty

Author: John Tomasic - March 7, 2017 - Updated: March 7, 2017

State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, meeting with constituents at a town hall, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Lakewood Cultural Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, meeting with constituents at a town hall, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Lakewood Cultural Center. (Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

A bipartisan Colorado bill that would make it easier for women in one visit to the pharmacy to collect more of their prescription contraception in order to be guarded against pregnancy for longer stretches of time.

The bill arrives as part of a legislative trend sweeping state capitals coast to coast that would give women greater control of their reproductive health. It’s a trend that may act as a hedge against cutbacks in contraception that might come of Trump-era conservative health policies.

The Colorado bill, HB 1186, is sponsored in the House by state Reps. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, and in the Senate by Don Coram, R-Durango. The bill is scheduled for a first hearing on Thursday in the House Health, Insurance and Environment committee.

The bill would require insurers who provide contraception coverage to reimburse providers for dispensing in one visit three months worth of contraception, including vaginal rings, to first time patients and a year’s worth of contraception to return patients.

Stateline, a Pew Charitable Trusts publication, reports that, across the country, health clinics are witnessing an uptick in demand for contraception.

“Appointments for long-acting birth control methods have jumped by more than 50 percent in Indiana compared to last year,” said Kristin Adams, CEO of the Indiana Family Health Council, in a Sateline interview. “We’re hearing some patients who have a long-acting device that’s good for only three years tell us to rip it out and put in the 10-year plan. It’s a sad state of affairs that women have to put off childbearing for 10 years because they’re afraid of losing their insurance.”

Analysts of the health care reform plan unveiled Tuesday by Republicans on Capitol Hill have noted that women’s reproductive health care options will become narrower and more expensive if the proposal were to pass into law as it has been written.

The plan would slash the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, defund Planned Parenthood, and phase out requirements that insurance plans cover maternity care. What’s more, the Obamacare birth control mandate appears to be on the chopping block. The mandate made contraception available at no out-of-pocket cost.

The Stateline story includes an insightful round up of contraception bills being considered in states around the country.

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

John Tomasic is a senior political reporter for The Colorado Statesman covering the Colorado Legislature.