SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – A state lawmaker wants to extend free family planning services to more Utahns.
Starting a family is one of life’s biggest decisions. State Representative and Family Physician Ray Ward says it’s one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Most people want to finish some part of their education, they want to have their relationship be stable and then they want to be able to have children when it makes sense for them. If that goes badly for people it’s a big economic setback, and when it goes well it’s good for their family and it’s good for our state,” said Ward, (R) Bountiful.
That’s why he’s introducing House Bill 12, Family Planning Services Amendments.
It would provide family planning services under Medicaid to the tens of thousands of Utahns who fall into the coverage gap.
“The same services that you would have if you were on Medicaid. That’s birth control pills, it’s the depo shot, the most reliable method are IUD’s, it makes those available to women,” said Ward.
It would not provide funds for abortion, but Ward says it would cut down on abortion and save the state money.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Utah Health Policy Project supports the bill, but they have a bigger goal in mind.
“We support his bill, but he, along with us also supports full Medicaid expansion, because it is the better option,” said Randal Serr.
A ballot initiative is in the works that would provide all Medicaid services to those who fall in the gap.
State Senator Gene Davis is also running a full expansion bill this year, but it has failed in previous years and will likely face the same fate this year.
Representative Ward’s bill will cost $800,000. It is in the governor’s proposed budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. The legislature still has to approve it.