A new state program will help immigrants who are in the U.S. without legal permission to get access to more affordable — or even free — birth control and other reproductive care.
The fund, set to start in January, will apply to women who would have otherwise qualified for Medicaid. The new law also will allow Medicaid recipients get a year’s worth of birth control pills at one time, a practice recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed SB21-009 into law Tuesday.
Latinos have the highest uninsured rate in Colorado — 27% — according to the bill, and 50% of pregnancies for Latinas in the U.S. are unintended. Because immigrants without documentation are not eligible for federally funded Medicaid benefits, lawmakers are creating this new program.
“For the first time, we can now offer contraceptive care to just about any woman or any family in the state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a Boulder County Democrat, “and reproductive rights are so important to so many people that want to make those choices around when they start a family or have additional family members due to jobs, due to education, due to trying to make sure they can prepare for that extra mouth to feed, and this bill does that.”
The governor also signed SB21-016 on Tuesday, which expands preventive health services that insurance carriers have to cover to include the cost of birth control plus counseling, prevention and screening for sexually transmitted infections, regardless of a person’s gender.
If approved by the federal government, these coverages would take effect Jan. 1, 2022, for large group insurers and Jan. 1, 2023, for individual and small group insurers.
Tuesday’s bill signings also included SB21-025, which requires federal authorization (to be sought by Jan. 21, 2022), to allow the state’s medical assistance program to provide family planning services to women with low and moderate incomes who don’t qualify for Medicaid coverage. As of early 2019, 28 states had received the authorization, according to the bill.
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