The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has announced plans to expand Medicaid funding for contraception, effective October 1.

The Illinois Family Planning Action Plan would increase the amount of money set aside for health care organizations providing reproductive health care. It would double Medicaid reimbursement rates for vasectomies and IUDs (intrauterine devices). The plan also includes an accommodation for religiously-affiliated providers who may object to providing contraceptives. Under the proposal, patients not covered by their employer and receiving Medicaid will be referred to providers  that offer contraceptive care.

Julie Hamos, the director of the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services, said the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision had a direct impact on the new proposal. Hamos said the Supreme Court ruling was of “extreme concern” to Governor Pat Quinn. Of the 3 million Illinois residents enrolled in Medicaid, a third are women of childbearing age. Unplanned pregnancies are a major expense for that population, which, Hamos said, is expected to grow under the Affordable Care Act.

“Providers need to make family planning accessible,” Hamos told attendees at the Illinois Contraceptive Equity Summit last week. Nearly 100 doctors, nurses, social workers and members of the women’s health community attended the summit.

The public is welcome to comments on the new proposal until September 15th.

 Media Resources: University of Chicago Science Life 8/27/14; Chicago Tribune 8/21/14;Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

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