Tester pushes to lower contraceptive costs, increase women’s access to care

Senator continues fight to improve women’s health

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Keeping his pledge to improve access to quality health care for Montana women, Senator Jon Tester is calling on the Obama Administration to ensure that more women have access to low-cost contraceptives.

Many health care providers in Montana and across the nation purchase heavily discounted contraceptives through a popular government initiative, then provide those contraceptives to their patients at no or reduced cost. But due to government regulations, it is currently unclear which family planning clinics and women’s health centers are eligible to participate in the cost-saving initiative.

Tester wants the Obama Administration to clarify the rules to ensure that all family planning clinics and health centers can purchase low-cost contraceptives – ensuring that more Montana women receive the care they need.

“Family planning helps women lead stronger, healthier lives, and I’ll keep fighting for the right of women to make their own health care choices,” said Tester.

Uncertainty over eligibility exists due to the wording of a 2005 law that deals with Medicaid’s 340B drug program. In a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Tester said the law was “clearly intended to define all family planning clinics as able to purchase discounted contraceptives.”

By clarifying the definition, family planning clinics across Montana would be secure in their ability to purchase discounted contraceptives and then share those savings with their patients.

“Since 2005, many of the nation’s family planning providers have struggled to meet the needs of lower-income and uninsured patients in the face of rising prescription drug costs,” said Stacy James, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of Montana. “Clarifying access to 340B drug pricing to include all essential community health providers is critical to expanding access to affordable preventive primary care both in Montana and across the country. I appreciate Senator Tester once again for stepping forward for women across Montana.”

Tester, who earlier this week recognized September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, recently got the Defense Department to once again cover a breast cancer test known as “BRCA.” The simple blood test uses DNA analysis to identify changes to genes that increase the likelihood of breast and ovarian cancer.

Tester’s letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Commissioner Marilyn Tavenner is available online HERE.