Minnesota enacted a new law this month that will make birth control more affordable and accessible. The law gives family-planning clinics the right to buy birth control at bulk rates through cooperative purchasing agreements. Peg LaBore, executive director of a Minnesota family-planning clinic, estimated that the legislation will reduce the price of contraception "by at least 50 percent," according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
In the past, clinics were forced to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on their own, frequently resulting in orders that proved "too small to receive the best prices," according to the Star Tribune. With the passage of this law, the Minnesota commissioner of human services will work with clinics to made contraception more affordable. The new law also increases access to birth control by allowing nurses to dispense contraception under the supervision of a medical director. This new arrangement will address the problems faced by small, rural clinics that may not have a full-time doctor on staff.
"For younger women especially, affordability and one-stop shopping really matters. They are more likely to use contraceptives responsibly if they can get what the need in one place," LaBore told the Star Tribune.
This legislation marks a victory in a time when the cost of birth control is skyrocketing for clinics serving low-income women and college students due to a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which reduced incentives for drug companies to offer discounted contraceptives to low-cost health-care providers. The change, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, can cause financial stress for both individual women and family planning clinics. Ms. magazine reports that some clinics "may be forced to shut down if prices aren't soon reduced, leaving poor women with even fewer resources."