DENVER, CO - In stark contrast to the recent wave of anti-reproductive rights laws across the country, this legislative session, Colorado took important steps in expanding access to reproductive health care. Colorado has a new law that expands access for survivors of sexual assault who use on Medicaid and become pregnant. Those patients will now be able to access abortion care in their home communities, rather than traveling hours for care. Coloradans will also have increased access to preventive care services.
Before Gov. Polis signed, “Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest” (SB21-142) into law, Colorado’s Medicaid patients who became pregnant as a result of sexual violence faced obstacles that patients with private insurance did not. A decades-old legal restriction forced Medicaid patients to drive to the only facility that met the restriction’s requirements, located in the Denver Metro area, to access covered abortion care. For some rural patients, this meant a day-long drive or paying for a plane ticket.
“A patient’s income or zip code should never determine their access to quality health care,” said Dr. Kristina Tocce, Vice-President, Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “These medically unnecessary restrictions don’t result in better care - they only create more barriers. This new law eliminates additional stress, expense, and inequality.”
Additionally this legislative session, Colorado expanded access to more preventive health services such as blood pressure screenings, lung cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and birth control coverage through “Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage” (SB21-016), which was signed into law today. These services will be provided without co-pay as originally established under the Affordable Care Act and reduce surprise billing for patients.
The new preventive services law allows the state to address Colorado-specific health care issues, such as the growing STI rates. Until now, patients who believed they might have an STI were billed for a “sick” visit, while those given a preventive STI test were not charged a copay. Men were more likely to get charged a copay than women, creating an obstacle to reducing STIs and promoting gender inequity.
“Gov. Polis and the legislature are creating common sense health care policy that protects patients from federal changes by including preventive care in Colorado law,” said Dr. Tocce. “When people have the opportunity to prevent health problems, the results are savings on costly chronic health issues and a healthier Colorado overall.”
Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest is sponsored by Senators Brittany Pettersen and Kerry Donavan, and by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Yadira Caraveo. Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage is sponsored by Senators Brittany Pettersen and Dominic Moreno, and by Representatives Daneya Esgar and Kyle Mullica.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which includes Colorado, Southern Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming, has been helping individuals make informed decisions for over 100 years.
Since 1916, we have been committed to delivering the highest quality reproductive health care, teaching comprehensive and developmentally appropriate sex education, and working diligently to protect an individual’s right to make their own decisions. Each year nearly 100,000 patients visit our 23 health centers throughout our region.
Call 1.800.230.PLAN for the Planned Parenthood nearest you.