Karla Gonzales García
Editor’s Note: Karla Gonzales Garcia, Policy Director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) offered remarks on the Senate passage of Senate Bill 9, which enhances access to contraception for undocumented people and low-income families in the state Medicaid program:
Right now, thousands of women in our state are facing structural barriers to obtaining an affordable, reliable contraception method to ensure they can manage their health and plan their families and futures. Sometimes the obstacles come from how much money someone has and that they cannot afford to pay for care out of pocket. Sometimes the gaps are a result of immigration status, which is made even more infuriating by the fact that the immigration system is broken and already causing so much harm to our families and our communities.
We should not just stand by and allow people to be left without the services they need because they use Medicaid to get their healthcare. Medicaid is supposed to be about making services more affordable for low-income people. It has helped us to build stronger, healthier communities. This legislation would ensure that this critical mission is reached when it comes to undocumented people in our state being able to access an important piece of reproductive healthcare – contraception.
Senate Bill 9 is ambitious, forward thinking and the right thing to do. It builds on the legacy we have set forth as a state of working to close gaps in care, of being a place where all people are treated with respect, and of actively striving to advance racial and reproductive justice. This bill is a first step, but certainly a very important one. It not only directly takes on the arbitrary and discriminatory limits placed on undocumented people, but also puts into law stronger standards around providing expanded access to contraceptive care.
For undocumented women who are too often either demonized or ignored in our policymaking, Senate Bill 9 truly breaks new ground
Requiring someone to get to a pharmacy for a refill every month may result in a gap in time without contraceptives. This is of particular concern for low- and middle-income women whose work hours may not be predictable or women who live in rural communities that have difficulty getting to a pharmacy. That’s why many states have already passed legislation to allow people to get a year of their prescription at a time. This helps to reduce disparities in health care and outcomes and increase opportunities for people to access contraception with fewer barriers, as part of a healthy sexual and reproductive life. Senate Bill 9 would put this best practice into place in our state Medicaid program.
This bill is innovative. It would help to reduce health disparities. It is just plain good health policy. We are so grateful to our sponsor and to every senator who voted today to pass this bill. We have work to do to make sure this bill is signed into law, but today we are so grateful to the lawmakers who stood by our side today and took action to support women and families. We are so grateful to the nearly 50 groups who have signed on in support of this legislation. And we are so grateful to the hundreds of people who have shared their stories, written letters of support, made calls and helped to build momentum for this important bill.
We are ready to keep it up and see this through until Senate Bill 9 is signed into law! With such a strong and robust coalition of legislators, advocates and activists we know that we can make it happen. This bill will make a positive difference for so many people. We are honored to lead this campaign!
Karla Gonzales García, Policy Director of Colorado Organization Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).
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