The results of the last election resulted in shared power at the Colorado General Assembly.
Democrats remain the majority party in the House, but Republicans gained control of the Senate.
Will good ideas from one chamber face ignominious defeat in the other one? A new proposal making progress in the House, involving a request to extend funding for what appears to be a very successful program involving long-acting reversible contraception, shorthanded as LARC, is likely to provide a telling test case.
House Bill 15-1194, sponsored by Representative KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat, sports the following summary:
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment currently administers the family planning program. Starting in 2008, the department received a multi-year grant to conduct an expanded family planning program, the primary focus of which was to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and related services, particularly to low-income women statewide, in order to reduce unintended pregnancies. Grant funding for the expanded program ends June 30, 2015.
The bill requires the department to continue the expanded program and appropriates $5 million from the state general fund to the department to provide LARC services in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
As noted in a release from the Colorado House Democrats, the LARC program provides IUDs and other reversible contraception at clinics all over the state. It was implemented in 2008 with more than a little help from a private donation of $23 million.
With the grant expiring in a matter of months, Becker's measure calls for state funding of $5 million to keep the program alive.
Here's how the Dems characterize the program's impact to date:
Since 2009, there has been a 37 percent decrease in the birth rate for unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school and a 42 percent reduction in the abortion rate among women ages 15 to 19. Before 2009 only one in 170 young, low-income women in Colorado received an IUD or contraceptive device, but by 2011, one in 15 young, low-income women received an IUD or contraceptive device.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has estimated that over a three-year period, every dollar invested in the program has resulted in an average savings of $5.85 in Colorado’s Medicaid program.
Also offering support for the measure is Cathy Alderman, an exec at Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. Here's her statement:
Colorado is a national leader in preventing unintended pregnancies in young women. Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado (PPVC) is pleased that the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee today approved funding for the long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) program, in a bipartisan 8-5 vote. The LARC program is run through the Colorado Department of Health & Environment.
The birth rate among low-income teens (ages 15-19) has dropped almost 40% in counties served by the program from 2009-14, and 22% among women 20-24. Avoiding unintended pregnancies gives young women brighter futures, because they are less likely to drop out of school or rely on public assistance.
The percentage of women using LARCs has remained highest among women aged 25-34, with more than twice as many women aged 25-34 (11.1%) using LARCs in 2011-2013 compared with women aged 15-24 (5.0%) and aged 35-44 (5.3%).
Women who have had at least one birth use LARCs at a higher rate compared with women who have had no previous births, and this difference has increased over time.
PPVC supports the LARC program moving forward and giving every young woman in Colorado the opportunity to have a successful, healthy life.
The bill is doing well thus far. It has now passed the House's Public Health Care & Human Services Committee by an 8-5 vote the Dems describe as bipartisan.
Backing from the Republican Senate will be harder to achieve. A bill to provide IUDs that's backed by Planned Parenthood will be a nonstarter for plenty of the most conservative members, even if it helps achieve a goal that's presumably shared by both parties: fewer unplanned teen pregnancies.
The bill heads next to the House Appropriations Committee. Read it below.