Friday, January 30, 2015

Lawmakers seek continued funding for successful family planning program

DENVER – A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers today introduced legislation to continue Colorado’s successful efforts to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the state.
Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, joined forces to introduce a bill that would dedicate $5 million in this year’s state budget to continuing the important work.
“We are so pleased to have strong Republican and Democratic support for this crucial work,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director of the department. “When people see the real gains we have made in supporting low-income women and families, in reducing the abortion rate, in reducing the teen pregnancy rate and in avoiding costs to programs such as Medicaid, they understand it’s a win for our entire state. The immediate return on investment is well-documented by the outcomes.”
Launched in 2009, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which is overseen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, focused on 28 family planning clinics serving 37 of Colorado’s 64 counties. Those counties are home to 95 percent of Colorado’s low-income residents. Through a private grant, the clinics were able to allow women to choose the form of contraception that works best for them, regardless of their ability to pay. Between 2009 and 2014, 30,000 women chose intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants, known as long-acting reversible contraceptives. These devices are the most effective form of birth control. 
“The legislation will allow this incredibly successful program to continue. It is so important to continue the gains we’ve made in Colorado toward ensuring all women have choices and all families are able to make decisions about when they will have children,” said Rep. Becker. “This effort is a major step toward ensuring some families don’t sink further into poverty because family planning options weren’t available to them.”
Since July 2014, the initiative has garnered national attention and posted impressive outcomes:
·        The birth rate among low-income women who lived in the counties with Title X agencies dropped 40 percent for women ages 15 to 19 and 22 percent for women ages 20 to 24 between 2009 and 2012.
·        Births to single women younger than 25 who hadn’t finished high school dropped 37 percent between 2009 and 2012.
·        The abortion rate fell 42 percent among all women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24.
·        Between March 2010 and January 2014, infant enrollment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) fell by 26 percent. The decline began in the year after the Colorado Family Planning Initiative started.
·        The birth rate for Medicaid-eligible women ages 15 to 24 dropped sharply each year between 2010 and 2012, and an expected 4,300 to 9,700 births did not occur. The state health department estimates Medicaid saved between $49 million and $111 million in birth-related costs.
·        For every dollar invested in this program, an average of $5.85 was avoided within a three-year period by the Colorado Medicaid program.
“With a nearly 40 percent reduction in the teen birth rate and a more than 40 percent reduction in abortions, this effort is well worth continuing,” Rep. Coram said. “When you add in the savings to our state budget and the curtailing of reliance on government programs, it’s really hard to see how anyone would oppose continuing this program.”
For more information visit Colorado Family Planning on the department’s website.

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