New York: Cutting Contraceptive Choices

In an effort to save money within Governor Cuomo’s plans, Medicaid is cutting the choices of contraceptives available for women living in the New York area.  What this means in reality, is that it is becoming a lot harder to obtain monthly or weekly contraceptives (such as the patch/NuvaRing) and instead move to daily pills. 

In theory this means that for those who want the name brand, they have to prove the other one “failed” for them: that they experienced nausea, bleeding or pregnancy.  However, in practice, since they will have to go through an appeals process to obtain their preferred contraceptive, the first two symptoms will probably be harder to prove – or at least nausea – since that is just based on the woman’s word.

Problems with the System

But this new attempt to save money comes with a lot of problems.  According to Cuomo’s deputy secretary for health, James Introne, New York Medicaid will ultimately suffer because if it’s not responding to its patient’s needs, it will no longer have the privilege of being one of the city’s contracted health plans.  The state of New York will simply have to intervene in such a case.  Ultimately, according to CEO of Family Planning Advocates, Albany, M. Tracey Brooks, contraceptives work best when the users are comfortable with them.  As well, for those accustomed to using monthly or weekly contraceptives, suddenly (and somewhat forcibly) moving to daily ones, will be a hard pill for them to remember to swallow on such a regular occurrence.  Nonetheless, it still has to be remembered that moving to generic contraceptives does lead to a huge cut in government costs, so it is a tough call.

Fighting Back

Naturally, protest groups are already cropping up against this measure. It is not just women using contraceptives who are going to be negatively impacted by Cuomo’s cost-cutting initiatives either. Those suffering from various chronic diseases including: mental illnesses, AIDs, diabetes and more will be targeted too. The problem is, say the protesters, that rather than qualified doctors and physicians making the call on what medication works best for their patient, Cuomo’s costs are turning the reigns over to health benefits managers.  It is extremely problematic for example, for a mentally-ill patient – who may have spent years balancing and finding the medical combination that works for them – to be suddenly told to move to a generic brand.  Should this happen, costs will ultimately be greater as these people on failed medication will require substantially more medical care.

Ultimately, while turning to generic drugs may initially seem like an easy idea to save money, the problems it comes with will probably ultimately lead to greater costs for the state of New York.