By ELZ ENGLAND
The fiscal irresponsibility of the United States government left the legacy of a 318.62 billion dollar budget deficit in 2005. In light of such an overwhelming figure, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Subtitle A of Title VI may reach into your pocket.
What does this have to do with sex you ask? This provision of the Deficit Reduction Act changed the Mary Washington Health Center’s ability to purchase certain drugs, including particular types of hormonal birth control.
Prior to the Deficit Reduction Act, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act (ORA) of 1990 required pharmaceutical companies to offer certain discounted rates to “340B agencies” and Medicaid. “340B agencies” are those covered by a section of the Public Health Services Act. This discounted rate used to be calculated based on the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP). Certain exclusions built into the equation allowed for the AMP to appear higher than it actually was. However, a seemingly higher AMP allowed for pharmaceutical companies to offer the same discounted rate to colleges, Planned Parenthood clinics, and select clinics.
The Deficit Reduction Act eliminated exceptions within the calculation of the AMP in order to lower the AMP and thus force pharmaceutical companies to provide even cheaper medication. Hence this Act dealt the pharmaceutical companies a financial blow. In order to cope with profit loss, the companies no longer offer a reduced rate to groups that the ORA of 1990 did not enumerate. Colleges, Planned Parenthoods, and many clinics will no longer have the ability to purchase discounted medication.
However, do not let the federal budget deficit, the really big words or the ramifications of this new act scare you. You will still have access to birth control, but it may become more expensive.
The most immediate consequence is that the Health Center will not be able to offer the NuvaRing on campus. Timmye Ross, the registered nurse for the Women’s Clinic, explained that they do have a very small inventory of NuvaRings, but they are reserved for people who are currently on the NuvaRing and have paid for a certain amount.
So, if you ordered and paid for NuvaRings through the Health Center, do not worry. You can retrieve them on a monthly basis. If you wish to begin on the NuvaRing you have several options. You may still go to the Women’s Clinic where you will discuss birth control options and obtain a prescription.
Nurse Ross recommends checking with your insurance, because some plans allow for a relatively cheap NuvaRing, around $15. Or, you may purchase it at the standard price which can be about $50. An inconvenient option is to look into Planned Parenthood. Although they lost the discounted rate also, their greater amount of funding allows them to absorb some of the cost. For example, Richmond Planned Parenthood sells the offers NuvaRing at $25.
Birth control pills will stay the same very low rate ($3.50 for a pack of Ortho Tri-Cyclen) for a while until the inventory is depleted. For awhile the price may rise to $15 to 20 a pack, but this is still much cheaper than any other option. Ultimately the Health Center will be exploring other options this semester, such as going generic on certain brands, in order to keep the costs low.
Regardless of the consequences of the Deficit Reduction Act, Nurse Ross would like to remind students that the Women’s Clinic is still “a good bargain.”
Personally, I would like to remind students that while birth control may be a bit more expensive now, a baby is exceedingly expensive. Take every precaution when having sex, because it will save you money in the long run. If you have the burning desire to immerse yourself in legal jargon to further investigate this issue, look at page 51 of the following pdf document online: frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi ?dbname=109_cong_bills&docid=f:s1932 enr.txt.pdf.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, the Peer Wellness Educators will be selling condom-grams in the Nest on Feb. 8, 9, 12 and 13. Stop by and send your loved one or really liked one a condom with Valentine flair. The recipients will find your gift in their mailboxes on the big day. Be sure to promote (and practice) safe sex this Valentine’s Day. Sexclamation.