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According to an article which appeared today in the Salt Lake Tribune, State Representative Jen Seelig (D) intends to introduce a bill this legislative session which will expand family planning services covered by Medicaid. If passed, the new law will require that Medicaid pay for family planning services utilized by recipients for two years following a birth, and it may be extended to offer the same coverage to all families up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Here are some of the statistics behind the proposal:

  • In 2008, 33 percent of Utah pregnancies were unplanned.
  • For those Utahns with an income of $15,000 or less, 51.2 of the pregnancies were unplanned.
  • Medicaid pays for almost a third of the deliveries in Utah.
  • More access to birth control could cut the number of abortions performed in Utah by up to 50 percent.
  • Medicaid currently provides birth control for 60 days following a birth.
  • Infants unintentionally conceived have lower birth weights and spend more time in intensive care units.
  • Mothers of unintentionally conceived infants suffer from postpartum depression, financial stress and relationship problems.
  • Utah is ineligible for Title X federal funding for family services because of a consent law which prohibits minors from getting contraceptives from any state agency without parental consent.
  • In 2004 and 2005, 75.7 of unplanned pregnancies were those by females 17 and under.
  • A Medicaid delivery costs $5,155 while family planning services cost $28 per month.
  • 78,600 women are within the 133 percent of federal poverty level range.
  • It will cost 26.4 million to cover those 78,600 women and the federal government would pay for all but 2.64 million of that cost.
  • 1,213 pregnancies would have to be permanently avoided to reach a break even point.
  • Seelig’s proposal is supported by Planned Parenthood, the March of Dimes, Voices for Utah Children and the Utah Health Policy Project.

Seelig’s proposal is a no-brainer. It makes good sense for the health of the women, children and other family members of those impacted, and it makes good financial sense for all taxpayers. I urge the Utah Legislature to pass the proposal into law this session and to make it effective immediately.

What do you think?

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