Lawmakers Work to Reverse Contraception Cost Surge

College students have seen the cost of birth control at their schools’ health clinics skyrocket this year. Now, two Democratic Colorado lawmakers have signed onto a bill that aims to bring prices back down.Women on college campuses across the country have been finding that the days of affordable birth control pills might be over. Students whose monthly bill used to be $15 or $20 are now being charged $30, $40 or even $50 for the same contraceptives.

The culprit is new restrictions on drug companies’ ability to give school health clinics deep discounts on hormonal birth control. The restrictions are an unintended result of the federal Deficit Reduction Act, which went into effect this year. In the past, drug manufacturers were happy to cut prices for school health clinics because young women who began using their brand at a discount would often continue to use it after college at full price. But a financial disincentive for the discounts is causing companies to charge school clinics more, and the higher costs are passed on to students on tight budgets.

Lawmakers began looking into the issue after news spread about the price increases at college campuses – including at the University of Colorado. Earlier this month, Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) introduced a bill that would get rid of the financial disincentive and encourage drug manufacturers to reinstate the discounts. Colorado Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter are co-sponsors of the bill.

According to the New York Times, some Democrats are determined to fix the problem as soon as possible. And if there’s opposition to the bill, they will consider “the possibility that it would be attached to some other legislation sometime before year’s end.”