Week 15: Success with the Budget

Week 15: Success with the Budget

What’s the hap at the cap? Legislative updates affecting youth sexual health, from April 9- April 21st.
By Liz McKay, Policy and Education Intern
April 21, 2016

Last Friday, the Colorado Legislature gave their final approval of the $27 million state budget, also known as the the Long Bill. Included in the budget was $2.5 million dollars for the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI), a program that provides long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) to high risk women at little or no cost.

Originally funded by private sources, CFPI began 6 years ago, and is largely responsible for the incredible drop in unwanted pregnancies the state has recently experienced. When the private funding ended last spring, a bill was introduced to the legislature to allocate state funds to continue the project. That bill died in the Republican-controlled house, but a number of organizations and foundations came together to provide one year of bridge funding to sustain the program.

This year, instead of introducing it as a separate bill, CFPI funding was added to the Long Bill. While most Republican legislators opposed it, four Republicans sided with the Democratic senators to pass the bill. Now, the entire budget has been approved and sent to the Governor to be signed.

Long acting reversible contraceptives include intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are inserted into the uterus and prevent fertilization, and implants, which are placed in the upper arm and prevent ovulation. These are the most effective forms of birth control, preventing pregnancy in more than 99% of cases. Unlike other methods, such as the pill, which require some sort of upkeep or continual action, LARCs are inserted once, and can last up to 12 years with no action required. With no need to refill a prescription or to purchase regularly at a store, this “set it and forget it” method is ideal for young people who may face additional barriers (such as cost or transportation) when accessing other birth control options. Unfortunately, LARCs can be pricey - up to $1,000 each, which can push them out of reach for many youth. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative subsidizes these high costs, so that more women can have access to long-term, reliable protection against unwanted pregnancy (important note: LARCs do not prevent STIs so condoms are still recommended, as they are with all other forms of contraceptive methods). The program also works to educate people about LARCs, so that more women are aware of this incredibly effective birth control option.

Since the start of CFPI in 2009, more than 30,000 women have received LARCs, and birth rates declined by an astounding 48% among teenagers. The program also saved taxpayers approximately $79 million dollars between 2010 and 2012, which equals about a $5.85 return for every $1 invested. Colorado Youth Matter fully supports CFPI, and is excited to see unplanned teen births continue to decline.

Also on our radar: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, or HB-1438, was introduced last Tuesday to the House Committee of Health, Insurance, and Environment. This bill would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers or workers recovering from childbirth (think extra bathroom breaks, chairs, and space to pump) as long as there is no undue burden on the employer. Despite current law such as the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act or the American Disability Act, pregnant workers are often denied necessary accommodation. Pregnancy discrimination claims overwhelmingly come from lower-wage jobs, meaning that young pregnant individuals may be at greater risk for experiencing discrimination within their workplaces. This bill would support young people in the workplace, ensuring they have healthy pregnancies while maintaining gainful employment. This bill will be heard in the Health, Insurance and Environment committee this afternoon.