Prevention Through Affordable Access Act to Bring Down Birth Control Costs at College Clinics
WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today praised members of the U.S. House of Representatives for the introduction of the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will provide a no-cost technical fix to restore eligibility for college health centers and safety-net providers to obtain low-cost birth control, and pass the savings on to college students and low-income women. The bill (HR 398) was introduced by Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY)and has bipartisan support. Original sponsors of the bill include Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Charles Dent (R-PA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA).
“We applaud Congressman Joseph Crowley for introducing the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, which will improve access to affordable birth control for millions of women,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “As women and families struggle in these tough economic times, it is important they have access to affordable birth control. This pro-prevention, pro-women’s health legislation has bipartisan support. And it won't cost the taxpayers a dime.”
“A bureaucratic mistake should not stand in the way of protecting the health and safety of millions of women across the nation,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “At no-cost to the American taxpayer, this simple legislative fix will restore affordable access to safe, effective birth control — reducing unplanned pregnancies and eliminating a considerable financial burden on millions of college-age and low-income women. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues Reps. Kirk, Ryan, Dent, and Schiff, and I am confident we will address this issue in the 111th Congress.”
For more than 20 years, Congress has made it possible for college health clinics and safety-net providers to purchase birth control at low prices in order to help ensure that college students and low-income women could afford the contraception they need. These health care centers were able to buy birth control at a discounted rate, and they were able to pass those savings along to college students and low-income patients.
In 2005, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which tightened regulations about who was eligible for nominally priced drugs. In doing so, Congress inadvertently cut off college health centers and other safety-net providers from obtaining birth control at a low cost. As a result, since 2007, birth control prices have skyrocketed. College women now routinely pay $50 and more a month for birth control at their college health clinic, when they had been used to paying $5–$10 a month.
“A technical oversight prevented many lower-income women from safe and low-cost contraceptives,” said Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL). “Contraceptive prices are up, forcing many college students to make difficult decisions regarding their personal health. In Illinois alone, at least 24 health centers are threatened and examples of hardships put upon women are well documented. This should not be a political debate — it should be a matter of restoring discounts to support women’s health.”
“The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act is an attempt to make sure that women who have been impacted by the severe downturn of our economy still have access to affordable birth control,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH). “Prevention reduces the number of abortions in this country. It is our moral obligation, whether we are pro-life or pro-choice to do what we can to achieve that goal.”
“This is the best kind of commonsense legislation,” said Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA). “It helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the incidence of abortion among college and low income women — at no cost to the American taxpayer.”
“Representing a district with numerous colleges and universities, I strongly supported fixing this technical error,” said Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA). “The deep discounts offered by drug manufacturers to college health clinics were a great benefit to the health and well-being of student populations, and they should be restored as soon as possible.”
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Prevention First Act (S. 21), which also includes a provision to restore access to affordable birth control.
On top of the rising cost of tuition, books, food and housing and the tough economy, skyrocketing prices are putting birth control out of reach for the college students and low-income women in need of family planning services to help them prevent unintended pregnancy. This crisis affects the estimated three million college women who take oral contraception, and hundreds of thousands of low-income women who obtain birth control through safety-net providers.
Rep. Crowley’s legislation, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, would bring down the soaring cost of birth control at college health clinics and safety-net providers and increase access to affordable birth control. This legislation will not cost the taxpayers a single dime, and would restore the voluntary benefit to college health clinics and safety-net providers.
In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act and introduced it in the Senate.
Visit Planned Parenthood’s Save Birth Control Now webpage at www.plannedparenthood.org for more information.
January 13, 2009