1. Health
Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

New York's Health Department - A Trendsetter for Plan B Emergency Contraception!

By May 18, 2007

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Plan B (more commonly known as the morning-after pill) consists of 2 progestin-only pills specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency contraception. August 24, 2006 proved to be a monumental day for Plan B advocates as the FDA announced that people 18 or older could now obtain Plan B over the counter instead of by prescription. Although this is great news to those individuals who could afford Plan B; for women on Medicaid, this presented a problem, as Medicaid only covers prescription drugs. This mean that, under prevailing State Medicaid regulations, a Medicaid recipient (even if older than 18) needs to obtain a fiscal or written order from a doctor before a pharmacy could dispense Plan B as an over-the-counter (non-prescription) medication.

I feel compelled to offer my respect to the Health Department of New York who set out to correct this injustice. Just indicated in the New York Register, the Health Department took a bold stance and adopted a new rule change under the Department's emergency rule making authority. This pragmatic and honorable decision will now allow for Medicaid recipients 18 years of age or older to buy nonprescription Plan B emergency contraception directly from a pharmacy (without the need of a written order). New York’s empathic attitude will help ensure that poor women can have access to this time-sensitive contraceptive just as easily as any other person without first having to visit a clinic to obtain a prescription. The only limitation is that Medicaid will only pay for 6 non-prescription courses of Plan B in any 12 month period.

The Health Department, understanding the importance that emergency contraception is most effective the sooner it can be taken after unprotected intercourse, intelligently found a way to help poorer women prevent the time barrier of first needing to see a doctor before obtaining emergency contraceptives. It’s time for other state departments and legislatures to get their heads out of the sand when it comes to these types of contraceptive issues. And yes, before someone starts complaining about the increase in money that this change will end up costing Medicaid and the people of New York, believe me when I tell you (and the New York Health Department will back me up) whatever costs this decision will generate will surely be offset by the decrease in costs resulting from prenatal care and deliveries of the unplanned births that this increased access to Plan B will help avoid.

As it now stands, the Health Department’s next move is to adopt this emergency ruling as a permanent rule. Go for it New York! It’s time to set the standard that, when it comes to issues like this, it’s time to start thinking with our brains. As one of my readers (a father to a young girl) commented in my last post,

“it is unfathomable that some parents and educators would rather “close their eyes” than discuss these important issues.”
If only everyone took such a logical approach…well at least New York is willing to take a stand. How about you? What are your thoughts about allowing Medicaid recipients easier access to and coverage of Plan B? Post me a comment on the link below. Get involved - Have your voice heard!

Plan B Emergency Contraception Photo provided courtesy of Dawn Stacey.

January 30, 2012 at 3:40 am
(1) Illinois says:

An injustice? Since when is pregnancy a disease? I see not reason why anyone has a right to contraception that bears with it the obligation for the taxpayer to provide it. Plan B, in cases where fertilization has occurred, acts as an abortifacient by preventing plantation of the zygote. I do not see why any public money should be used to support certain people’s desire to have sex whenever they want and not deal with the consequences. The government’s embrace of contraception is a convenient way of trying to avoid the ultimate causes of poverty in this country.

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