In August, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson rewrote state Medicaid rules to include coverage of abortion pills in cases that are deemed medically necessary. The Albuquerque Tribune reported that Gov. Richardson made changes to the rules because their vague wording precluded doctors from getting reimbursement for disbursing drugs, only pharmacists could be reimbursed for drug distribution. Because doctors must distribute the abortion pill mifepristone, commonly referred to as RU-486, the rule in effect barred Medicaid patients from receiving a medically necessary procedure. The new language was written broadly to cover all oral medications that are used for terminating a pregnancy to cover any pills that come into the market in addition to mifepristone.
The Associated Press reports that most private health insurance plans have covered mifepristone since 2000 when it went on the market. “For low-income women to not have this kind of insurance was a real slap in the face,” Dr. Bruce Ferguson, an Albuquerque physician told the Albuquerque Tribune. “This is a big step forward. It gives the poor the same options as women who have jobs and insurance.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been leading a campaign to increase clinical trials and research into the potential uses of mifepristone to treat fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other serious illnesses. However, efforts by anti-abortion extremists, including a petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking for a review of FDA approval for the drug, have severely limited access for women in the US to a potentially lifesaving drug.
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