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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would require the Department of Human Services to implement a state Medicaid payment strategy to optimize the availability of long acting reversible contraceptives was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are methods of birth control that provide effective contraception for an extended period of time without requiring user action. They include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal contraceptive implants.

“This bill would make it easier and more affordable for New Jersey women to choose a contraceptive option that is promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as among the most effective family planning methods,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer).  “We want the Department of Human Services to help female Medicaid clients by removing the administrative and reimbursement barriers that result in high upfront costs and payment policies that reduce or do not provide for devices or placement, so the women of this State can truly have a choice when it comes to their reproductive healthcare.”

The national Maternal and Infant Health Initiative was launched by the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services in July 2014 to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. One goal of the initiative was to increase access and use of effective methods of contraception.  Despite the CDC reports of LARCs’ pregnancy rates being less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women in the first year, the use of LARCs in the United States is relatively low when compared to other countries. Two reasons cited for the low utilization of LARCs in the U. S. are administrative and reimbursement barriers that result in high upfront costs for devices, and payment policies which reduce, or do not provide, reimbursement for devices or placement.

“Last month, New Jersey experienced the heartbreak of losing three of four babies who were found abandoned.  This is 2018 and there should be no reason for a woman to have to abandon an infant.  There are alternatives,” said Senator Turner.  “We need to give women every possible tool to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to make their contraceptive choice affordable.”

The bill, S-1347, would require a payment strategy that includes initiatives such as timely, patient-centered comprehensive coverage for the provision of LARCs; reimbursement for immediate postpartum insertion of LARCs separate from other labor and delivery services; device supply management improvements and removal of administrative barriers for the provision of LARC devices.

The bill would also require all managed care organizations which provide healthcare coverage to Medicaid clients to implement these initiatives to improve access to and availability of LARCs for women.

With today’s 8-0 vote, the bill next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.