Bills to Increase Coverage For Critical Health Services Advance

DENVER, CO– The House Health and Insurance Committee today advanced two bills that would increase access to critical health services. SB21-009 would create a program to provide a 12-month supply of contraceptives and counseling services, and SB21-016 would require insurance plans to cover health services for sexually transmitted infections.

SB21-009, which is sponsored by Representative Yadira Caraveo, a physician, allows more Colorado families to make their own choices about when to start a family. The bill establishes the Reproductive Health Care Program, which would provide a 12-month supply of contraceptives and counseling services without prior authorization or co-pays to eligible individuals, regardless of citizenship status. Women who receive a year’s supply of oral contraceptive are 30 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy than those who receive one or three-month supplies at a time.

“Too many Colorado women, in particular people of color and Latinas, don’t have access to reproductive health care or contraception options,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a physician. “Barriers to accessing contraceptives exacerbate health inequalities by leading to unintended pregnancies, lack of comprehensive sexuality education, higher rates of maternal mortality, and inferior care for chronic illnesses for which contraception is vital. This bill will help  provide access to necessary reproductive health care services.”

SB21-016, sponsored by Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and Representative Kyle Mullica, an ER nurse, requires health plans to cover several critical preventative health services regardless of cost, such as osteoporosis screening, screenings for urinary conditions and sexually transmitted infection (STI) health care services, such as vaccinations for STIs.  The bill would require coverage for diagnosis and treatment of STIs and contraceptive and family planning services. Importantly, it would reduce surprise billing for annual wellness visits by ensuring co-pay free coverage for STI testing and prevention, and closing gaps in family planning coverage.

“We can’t hide from the facts–Coloradans will have better health outcomes if they have coverage for the critical screenings and treatment they need, and that’s what this bill does,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “We’re seeing too many LGBTQ Coloradans face challenges accessing critical health services, screenings or treatments for common conditions. We can do better–this bill ensures that everyone in our state has access to the care they need to live healthy lives.” 

“Access to preventative health care and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, like cervical cancer, save lives,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica, an ER Nurse. “No one should go without a screening that could diagnose a life-threatening condition or forgo treatment for that condition because their health insurance doesn’t cover it.” 

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