Birth Control Copay Increases

On July 28, we were informed at an informal grievance meeting that birth control copays were going to increase from $10 to $20 along with all other generic prescriptions.  This is troubling news, as it creates an undue and disproportionate burden on female GEO members, who have been guaranteed $10 birth control prescriptions for over a decade under a document referenced by Article 35, Section D of our contract.  This document, Appendix A, is a 1991 memorandum from then Executive Director of University Health Services David Kraft outlining the creation and standardization of a copay schedule for the Student Health Insurance Plan, and it is at the heart of GEO’s grievance over this summer’s unilateral increases in our copays.  Appendix A sets out a range of costs for prescription drugs, and clearly states that birth control pills are “$10.00 per cycle”.

The University informed us yesterday that a provision within the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that went into effect in 2007 prohibited University Health Services from offering birth control at a rate different from the generic prescription copay, which has been $10.00 for the last several years.  After looking into the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, it is clear that the language in that law defining those organizations which can offer “outpatient drugs at nominal prices” has been updated by the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 to include “an entity based at an institution of higher learning whose primary purpose is to provide health care services to students of that institution”.  The changes set forth in the 2009 law went into effect retroactively, to January 1, 2007.

All of this means that University Health Services is legally able to keep its obligation to maintain the $10 birth control copay, an obligation we will remind them of as they attempt to use the outdated 2005 law to increase our members’ birth control copay.

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