Tessa Cheek, Colorado Independent

“A bill to offer low-income women free long-acting reversible birth control failed on party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate kill committee, despite bipartisan efforts to save it.

Opponents of the bill worried that increasing access to birth control would not have a net public health gain because it would increase promiscuity.

“Sexually transmitted infections are costing us $16 billion a year. How are these IUDs [intrauterine devices] going to cut down on STIs? That’s what I want to know,” said Rosina Kovar, a Denver grandmother. “Are the guys going to want to use any condoms?”

Supporters said teens are having sex and that their bill was about mitigating the repercussions. The advocates suggested that the state would save at least $5 Medicaid dollars for every one of the $5 million it spent on the program. They pointed out that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s LARC program reduced teen pregnancy in Colorado by 40 percent during the years it was privately funded.

Amber Burkhart, the health policy fellow at Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, argued that even though the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover birth control at no cost to the patient, many plans are using cost loopholes to only offer the cheapest methods, thereby excluding LARCs like IUDs or implants.

“The LARC program fills a really important gap…especially for the uninsured and underinsured,” said Burkhart. She added that according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 275,000 women in Colorado still need better access to contraceptives.”

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