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State Representative Announces Plans For Family Planning Legislation

Erik Neumann
The Utah Capitol building.

On Wednesday a Utah State Representative announced his plans for a bill to increase access to birth control methods for low-income Utahns.

During a state Health and Human Services Committee meeting, Republican Representative Raymond Ward said before the next legislative session, he intends to draft a bill to request a Medicaid family planning waiver. Such a request would create a state-federal funding stream for contraceptive methods like IUDs and arm implants.

Utah is one of only seven states that has not already requested a family planning waiver, which predates the Affordable Care Act. Ward says that means it wouldn’t be subject to changes if the ACA is repealed.

"To me, this is one area where there is good data from many other states. Which is why almost all other states have already chosen to do this," Ward says. 

Ward’s bill would apply to women who are below 100 percent of the federal poverty level who don’t have other types of coverage for contraception.

Dr. David Turok is an Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah. He says access to contraceptives has long-term impact on low-income women. 

"It will really change the trajectory of their ability to finish their education, to have the family size that they want, to have the economic opportunities that they want," Turok says. 

Also from the U was Dr. Jessica Sanders, an epidemiologist and the school’s director of Family Planning Research. She says this waiver could benefit up to 8,000 women in Utah who currently aren’t eligible for Medicaid. 

"Many of these women would become Medicaid recipients if they become pregnant," Sanders says. 

Sanders says Colorado and Iowa both evaluated the effect of waivers on their budgets. She says Colorado saved $79 million over six years and Iowa saved $200 million over nine years. Representative Ward says the state-federal match would cost the state $1 million per year. 

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