Monday, September 8, 2008

Birth Control Week

Bush Administration Continues to Block Affordable Birth Control

It is that time of year again, the time of year when students start heading back to college to continue their education. On top of the rising cost of tuition, books, food and housing, college students across the country are finding out that they can add one more increased expense to that list, the skyrocketing cost of birth control. For months college women across the country have been drawing attention to this problem, but when they return to campus they will find that the Bush administration has blocked the fix at every turn. College women can expect to pay up to $50 a month for birth control at their college health clinic, when they had been used to paying $5–$10 a month.

This is a recent development. For more than 20 years, Congress has encouraged drug companies to offer discounted birth control to certain health care providers including college health clinics and other safety-net providers. Because these health care providers were able to buy birth control at a discounted rate, they were able to pass those savings along to college students and low-income patients.

Then, in 2005, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which tightened regulations about who was eligible for nominally priced drugs. In doing so, Congress inadvertently cut off college health centers and other safety-net providers from obtaining birth control at a low cost. As a result, since 2007, birth control prices have skyrocketed.

The good news is that this is something that can be easily fixed. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, that would restore affordable birth control at college health clinics and safety-net providers and increase access to affordable birth control. This legislation, introduce by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), will not cost the taxpayers a single dime and has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Birth control is basic health care. Affordable birth control is smart public health policy and politicians should not interfere with women’s access to affordable birth control. We should be making it easier for women to obtain affordable birth control and take control of their lives, not more difficult. Contraceptive use reduces the likelihood of unintended pregnancies and allows women the opportunity to plan healthy families.

Women’s health matters. Before leaving office, the Bush administration needs to stop playing politics with women’s health and work with Congress to fix this problem or the consequences will continue to be devastating for college students and low-income women across the country.

Write your elected official today demanding that sanity return to birth control pricing.

The graphic at the top is Planned Parenthood of New York City's newly launched birth control campaign in Brooklyn. The "wallscape" is located at Flatbush and Fulton at the entrance to Fulton Mall. Click on the picture for a bigger image.

1 comment:

Allison said...

women's health care is a huge issue for me in this election. i pay $30 a month for birth control, and even worse are the costs for preventative care, like pap smears. obama and mccain both commented on their views on health issues on Your Candidates-Your Health...useful for comparing their views.