Senate Democrats: Ease Access to Birth Control Pills

Jan 20, 2016

A Democratic-backed bill in the Iowa Senate designed to improve access to contraceptives, especially in rural Iowa, passed a first hurdle at the statehouse Wednesday.     

Under the bill, women on Medicaid, the government health care program for low-income Iowans, would receive a full year of birth control pills, instead of the current limit of three months.   

Robins Democrat Liz Mathis says for rural women, getting to a pharmacy that often can be an impediment. 

“There are a number people who do not have ready access to birth control every month or 90 days,” Mathis says.  

Mathis says there are fewer pharmacies in rural Iowa, regardless of what meds you need.    

“There are roadblocks to prescription drugs and birth control is one of them,” Mathis says. “This is making sure we have ready access.”

The lone Republican on a three-member panel declined to sign on, while some questions remain unanswered, including how co-pays would work. 

The bill is modeled on an Oregon law.   

Health insurers and pharmacists are monitoring the bill.  It’s backed by the Iowa Medical Society and the Family Planning Council.

Similar legislation may be offered to also require private insurance companies to cover 12-month prescriptions.