Kaiser Health News
AUSTIN — Peggy Wall, a family nurse practitioner at a local community health center, treats many women in their 40s, who already have a family and find themselves confronting an accidental pregnancy.
Many, she says, wish they had taken preventive steps after their last child was born and could be good candidates for getting an intrauterine device in the delivery room, immediately after giving birth. Until recently, that sort of IUD access has been difficult to come by.
“Some of them have chaotic lives — or they think they won’t be insured,” she said. “We try to help them.”
Soon, she said, that should become easier.
Health officials are trying to rebuild the state’s women’s health program, a complicated project launched after Texas in 2011 cut funds for family planning that had been going to Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated — even loosely — with abortion providers.
As part of the new program, the state is trying to bolster low-income women’s access to birth control to curb unintended pregnancies.
Nationally, about half of pregnancies are unintended. And Texas is one of nearly two dozen states changing their Medicaid programs, the federal-state insurance plan for low-income people, to pay hospitals for inserting an IUD or contraceptive implant in the delivery room.
In the past, most Medicaid program generally offered a set payment for labor and delivery and didn’t include an option for payment for the IUD insertion.
States hope to keep women healthier, especially since doctors advise spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart. They’re betting the upfront investment will pay off. [Read more…]