Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) have joined with other lawmakers to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to take legislative action to lower the cost of birth control at some family planning clinics and university health centers. After a recent change in Medicaid laws caused a dramatic spike in contraceptive prices, a total of 93 lawmakers have signed the letter requesting that Pelosi “take action on an appropriate legislative vehicle so these clinics can… provide vital services.” Earlier this year, Reps. Crowley and Ryan had inserted language that would have lowered birth control costs into a war funding bill, but the language was later removed.
For the past 20 years, pharmaceuticals have been able to offer a steep discount on birth control to clinics serving low-income women, including university health centers and some family planning clinics. However, under a change in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, offering these discounts now increases the money companies must pay to participate in Medicaid. As a result, the discounts are no longer offered, and the cost of birth control has risen significantly for low-income women. The increase went into effect on January 1, 2007.