Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam announced a $9 million program proposal on Friday that would make free long-lasting birth control available to women who have little or no health insurance. Funding for the pilot program will be included in Governor Terry McAuliffe’s next two-year budget plan.
The proposal would make intrauterine devices (IUDs) and skin implants available to eligible women at no cost through a federal grant. The program budget will also cover patient outreach, clinician training, and a study to assess the program’s impact.
“Education and access to family planning services help women and families live healthy and prosperous lives in Virginia. When pregnancies are planned, it is easier for Virginians to achieve life goals like getting a college education or starting a business,” said Northam during the announcement. “And when any business looks to come to Virginia, we want that business to know we are a welcoming and open place for women and families to live and work.”
In his remarks, Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon, cited a comparable program in Colorado that led to a 48 percent decrease in the teen birth rate between 2009 and 2013, and saved an estimated $79 million in Medicaid costs from 2010 through 2012. Despite Northam’s optimism that the Virginia program could see similar results to Colorado, it is important to note that the privately-funded Colorado initiative was a five-year, $25 million grant. McAuliffe and Northam have yet to announce any further plans past the two-year budget proposal.
The program will now have to be approved by Virginia’s Republican-controlled state legislature.
Media Resources: Washington Post 1/8/16; Office of the Lieutenant Governor Press Release 1/8/16; Feminist Newswire 11/2/15; Colorado Springs Gazette 10/22/15