Contraceptive Equity Summit grapples with family planning changes under Obamacare

Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, speaking at the Illinois Contraceptive Equity Summit on Aug. 20

Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, speaking at the Illinois Contraceptive Equity Summit on Aug. 20

Illinois public health officials want to double Medicaid reimbursement rates for providing vasectomies and IUDs under a proposal announced last week at the University of Chicago.

Speaking at the Illinois Contraceptive Equity Summit, the director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services said state officials hope the proposed reimbursement changes increase access to family planning services, which officials hope will in turn help women plan their pregnancies.

“Providers need to make family planning accessible,” said Julie Hamos, the agency’s director.

The Aug. 20 meeting was co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Section of Family Planning & Contraceptive Research and EverThrive Illinois, formerly the Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition. The summit comes as public health officials across the country address changes in insurance coverage for patients following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. So far, Hamos said, about 620,000 more Illinois residents have received access to health insurance thanks changes under the legislation that’s also known as Obamacare.

Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics at the university and section chief of Family Planning & Contraceptive Research, said health care providers find themselves wrestling with how to best _ and practically _ advise patients about all forms of contraception.

“I often struggle with an ethical problem,” she said. “Do you counsel them about what’s best for them, or what their insurance will cover?”

It’s those sorts of questions that Hamos hopes to address in the draft version of the Illinois Family Planning Action Plan. She outlined the efforts during a speech before nearly 100 physicians, nurses, social workers and members of the women’s health community during the meeting at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago.

The agency’s proposal also includes other proposed changes including raising the dispensing fee for 340B medical providers by 75 percent for long-acting reversible contraception and hormonal contraception. The public can comment on the plan until Sept. 15.

Gilliam, who was among those who organized the summit, said she hopes the meeting gave advocates a chance to learn about proposed changes and in turn how to best help patients.

“This … is an opportunity for all of us who believe in the value and importance of contraception to get together to start to talk about how we’re going to ensure equitable access for all women,” she said.

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