New legislation that will lower contraception costs went into effect this week in Minnesota.
Since 2003, the cost of contraceptives has skyrocketed for family-planning clinics, forcing them to pass those costs on to their clients. In turn, higher prices have decreased the number of family-planning clinic patients — and, presumably, the number of women using effective birth-control methods.
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Lawmakers voted to allow family-planning clinics to buy contraceptives through cooperative purchasing agreements that will lower their costs. Previously, clinics negotiated with pharmaceutical companies on their own, often placing orders that were too small to receive the best prices.
Now, the commissioner of human services must work with clinics to adjust medical assistance reimbursement rates to adequately cover the costs.
Clinics will be able to get the same per-unit price for contraceptives and other clinic supplies that are available to the state. In other words, clinics can now join the state drug plan.
This is great news! This is going to tremendously assist non-profit reproductive health clinics like Planned Parenthood in providing more and better services. And there’s no question that it’s a great thing for low-income women who have trouble staying on birth control regimes due to cost.
Even better, the law also allows nurses to dispense contraception under the supervision of a medical director. This too has the ability to greatly improve and expand services at clinics with tight budgets (almost all of them), and there’s really no reason to not have it as an option. The woman I see for my OB/GYN appointments is a registered nurse, and my experiences with her are some of the best I’ve ever had in receiving medical care.
Let’s all tip our hats to Minnesota legislators for looking out for women. Let’s also hope that, in states where it hasn’t already, the idea will start to catch on.