UPDATE: Statement from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado:
It is disgraceful that Republican Colorado Senators this session voted to leave low-income teenagers and young women without access to contraception that will help them achieve their goals and stay financially independent. Funding for the program expired today – that leaves a huge gap for hundreds of thousands of young women in Colorado.
The long-acting reversible contraception program (LARC) is recognized as a critical part of making Colorado #1 in preventing teen pregnancies (by 40%) and reducing abortions (35%). A relatively small investment of $5 million in LARC would have saved an estimated $50 million in Medicaid and public assistance programs.
The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is searching for alternative funding to continue this vital service. Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting all programs like LARC that help teenagers stay in school and give them the opportunity to succeed.
A story from KUNC community radio last month announced that a highly successful program to provide IUD contraception to low-income women in Colorado would be renewed for another year, despite the refusal by Republicans in the Colorado legislature to authorize public funds to continue the program:
Despite state lawmakers failing to pass a bill to fund the effort, a program to provide long acting reversible birth control to young, low-income women in Colorado is being extended for another year.
The long acting contraceptives, according to state figures, have helped cut teen pregnancy rates in the state by 40 percent. Abortions have gone down too…
[Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment Executive Director Larry] Wolk does want to come back to the state Legislature in 2016 and try to get the $5 million needed to again fund the program through the state – and even expand it to more clinics that serve lower income young women.
“It’s good public investment,” said Wolk. “It’s not fair that we have to keep going to the private or foundation community to fund something that is saving the state money.” [Pols emphasis]
But according to a press release today from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the lack of public investment in the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception program is a problem–making the previous declaration of victory problematic:
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment continues to search for funding for its successful Colorado Family Planning Initiative. To date, there is engaged conversation and expressed interest, yet no firm commitment. [Pols emphasis]
“We are working closely with our partners who believe in this initiative to find the funding necessary to continue providing contraceptive choices to young women across Colorado,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the department. “Making sure Colorado women have access to safe and effective contraception is an investment in their futures and ours.”
There’s reportedly still a possibility that private funds will come through to continue this program, perhaps on a reduced scale depending on how much they can get. But the situation could still affect single women in the interim if funding isn’t locked in soon, and in either case illustrates the uncertainty involved with trying to fund an important public health program of this kind with fickle private contributions. As CDPHE executive director Larry Wolk says, this is a program that saves the state tax money in the end, so to refuse to fund it as Republicans in the legislature did this year was textbook pennywise and pound foolish.