INDIANAPOLIS—On Tuesday, the House passed a bill that is now being advanced to the Senate to help women who are giving birth to become Medicaid eligible and access contraceptives if needed. 

House Bill 1426 helps women who have just given birth gain access to contraceptives like IUDs or implants through Medicaid assistance. Authored by Rep. Rita Fleming, D-Jeffersonville, it passed on the third reading with a roll call of 94 yays and four nays. 

Critics of the bill at a Public Health Committee hearing on Jan. 30 argued it might affect the availability of certain contraceptives. Ultimately, these concerns didn’t derail the bill from passing. 

Fleming told The Statehouse File, “I am a retired obstetrician, and I took care of a lot of women who wanted birth control before they left the hospital. Traditionally, women come back for six weeks for a checkup, but some women aren’t able to do that because of unreliable transportation. Women who have challenges that prevent them from coming to a doctor’s office to get birth control was really what spurred me to bring this legislation.” 

The bill requires a hospital that operates a maternity unit to ensure that a woman who is giving birth is eligible for or receiving Medicaid assistance and has the option, if not medically contraindicated, of receiving an IUD before she is discharged. Hospitals with faith-based objections will be exempt from the requirement. 

“I took care of these women during their pregnancies and understood how distraught they were sometimes when they couldn’t get access to birth control and found themselves with a baby they couldn’t afford or couldn’t care for,” Fleming said. 

The bill also requires the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services Administration to reimburse the hospital for the cost of the contraceptive and procedure. These rules will come into effect on July 1, 2025, if the bill becomes law. 

The next step for HB 1426 after passing out of the full House is to go to the Senate, starting in the Senate Health Committee

© Copyright 2024 The Statehouse File, Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism