Spending Bill Reduces Cost of Birth Control Pills on Campus

Prices at college clinics rose after previous federal tweak. A new law restores the pill's discounts.

By + More

In 2007, the cost of birth control pills at college campuses skyrocketed because of federal cost-cutting, forcing students to pay up to 10 times more for the pill than they had before. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the "Affordable Birth Control Act," which would restore affordable access to birth control pills from college clinics and community health centers.

The jump in prices two years ago was the result of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which in part forced drugmakers to recalculate Medicaid-related rebates paid to states. By the beginning of 2007, drugmakers had removed the deep discounts offered on some birth control brands for college clinics. As stockpiles ran out in the fall, students saw their payments rise from $3 to $5 per month to $30 to $50. Some campus pharmacies, like the one at Bowdoin College, stopped stocking birth control pills altogether.

The provision to bring the cost back down is part of the $410 billion omnibus spending bill.

The president of Planned Parenthood has praised the provision, saying in a statement:

We applaud Congress for righting a wrong that has restricted access to basic but critical preventive health care services, and left millions of women at risk of unintended pregnancy. The passing of today's legislation is a victory for women's health and especially for women who have struggled to afford the rising costs of basic contraception in these tough economic times.