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LegisBlog #2: Contraception Bill (HB12) Clears Hearing

25 January 2018 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

The middle of the week is when lots of action happens at the Utah Legislature. And that was true during this first week of the 2018 session.

HB12 RayWard 6

On Wednesday afternoon (January 24) the House Health and Human Services Committee (HHS, for short) heard Rep. Ray Ward's HB 12, titled "Family Planning Services Amendments." One thing to note is that Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) is a practicing family physician in Davis County and a strong propinent of Medicaid expansion. And after a discussion among legislators that many observers felt showed a lack of understanding about how contraception and IUDs work, the bill passed the committee on a 12-1 vote and will head to consideration on the House floor sometime soon. If you want to hear male legislators wonder about what it would be like to have a uterus, you can listen to the hearing here. The Salt Lake Tribune has a good summary of the bill and the hearing here

HBS 12 does two things. 1) It allows providers to bill Medicaid for placing long-last contraception (like an IUD, or intra-uterine device) while the woman is still in the hospital after childbirth. This is often the most opportune time for a woman to receive an IUD and get counseling about family planning--but current Utah Medicaid rules do now allow for a doctor to bill for the procedure under the bundled payment for the delivery.  2) HB 12 requires the state to apply for a Medicaid waiver/state plan amendment that allows women with low incomes to receive Medicaid-style family planning services including contraception, doctor appointments, and placement of IUDs. The federal government would 90% of the costs of this coverafge, and the state would pay 10% of the cost--a skignificant increase over the states currint 70/30% Medicaid match rate. The scope of low income is not defined in the bill, but it should apply to women who earn between 0% and 100% of the federal poverty level, which is $0 to $12,000 a year. The women would not receive full Medicaid benefits, but they would get family planning services--which is better than the nothing they have now.

The tenets of this bill have been discussion for many years, and the ACLU of Utah has been there since the beginnig. We believe that women with low-incomes should have affordable access to family planning services and contraception. Getting HB12 through this House committee is an important frist step, but no where near the finish line. 

Follow the ACLU's Bill Tracker to find out the latest on HB12 as it moves through the legislative proces... House Floor, Senate Rules Committee, Senate HHS Committee (likely), Senate Floor... and hopefully to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert.