2005 Cut to Medicaid Rears its Ugly Head

Bad news for the 39 percent of female college students currently trying to avoid unwanted pregnancy by taking the pill: thanks to the far-reaching effects of a 2005 bill that took aim at Medicaid from multiple angles, their contraception may soon become unaffordable. According to an AP story published last week, the 2005 bill—which took effect this year—makes it more expensive for drug manufacturers to participate in Medicaid, while simultaneously removing the incentive for them to provide deep discounts to campus health centers for things like contraception. The result? Women at Kansas State University who used to pay $10 a month for pills will now pay $30. At Texas A&M, prices are expected to triple. And at Indiana University, women are now paying $22 a month instead of $10 for the same pills. These are just a few examples. As this latest development proves, the 2005 bill was a slap in the face for millions of sexually active college students currently struggling to work, study, make ends meet, and exercise responsible control over their reproductive lives.

The bill was in fact a slap in the face for women of reproductive age all over the United States, 20 percent of whom lack health insurance. According to NFPRHA, women already pay more than 68 percent more than men in out-of-pocket health care costs (and earn 77 cents to men's dollar, I might add). Now, thanks to President Bush's several-year tradition of starving Title X (you know, the federal family planning program run by this guy), more and more women are looking to Medicaid to meet their basic family planning needs. In 2001, Medicaid already accounted for two-thirds of the total amount of family planning funding available to women in the United States. So you can imagine how the 2005 bill, which cuts nearly $5 billion from Medicaid over five years, is going to make a bad situation worse. Research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute breaks down the phenomenon in greater detail (PDFs).

Between the soaring birth control prices for college students, the Texas Senate's offer to pay women a pathetic $500 if they opt for adoption over abortion, and the North Dakota House's rejection of a bill that would have allowed adolescent girls to seek prenatal care without their parents' consent, March has been a banner month for those who crusade against abortion by offering absolutely no support for women who wish to avoid pregnancy or women who choose to become mothers. If we really want to live in a culture of life, maybe that's where we should start.

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