On March 9, the University of Colorado Boulder Student Government (CUSG) approved a bill to create a new pilot program providing free and subsidized emergency contraceptives to CU Boulder students.
The bill will allow students to pick up emergency contraceptives at the Wardenburg Health Center’s Apothecary, the center’s in-house pharmacy, for free or at a reduced cost. Students will also be able to visit several on-campus markets, including Sewall and Farrand Markets, to purchase an emergency contraceptive pill for $2 or $3.
Currently, university students must pay for an emergency contraceptive pill at the Apothecary, which is one of the only places on campus to receive the medication.
The bill, which has been in development since fall 2022, is authored by Nimisha Mallela, CUSG’s health and safety chair, Legislative Council President Sally Webster and Rep. Elizabeth Craig.
The bill was sponsored by Craig and Sen. Gabbie Burton. Burton has contributed to non-student government reporting published by the CU Independent.
Mallela, who co-authored the bill, said it’s gone through several changes prior to the version that passed.
“I reached out to the pharmacy and campus dining services, and I tried to figure out a way to make sure that we can use [the allocated] money toward…effective distribution pathways,” Mallela said.
In order to receive the medication from the Apothecary, students will be required to present their student identification number and must have paid their student fees.
McKesson, a pharmaceutical supplier which currently provides Wardenburg with its supply of over-the-counter contraceptive pills, will also provide CUSG’s requested medication. Student government will initially foot the bill for 50-100 pills, which currently cost Wardenburg about $7 per pill.
“We’re also trying to figure out mechanisms [to] keep it free over campus,” Mallela said. “This is a pilot program, so the distribution pathways we have now are not the only ones we’re looking into.”
Legislators also added an accommodation for people to access the Ella contraception pill, which is a contraceptive prescribed for people who weigh over 165 pounds.
Students interested in receiving the Ella pill must first get a prescription and meet with a healthcare provider at Wardenburg to access the medication.
According to Mallela, students currently have to pay $35 for a McKesson pill and $52 for an Ella pill. If the pilot program is adopted, CUSG would cover the $52 consumer cost for an Ella pill.
“That’s still being talked about,” Mallela said. “We don’t really know what is going to happen with that yet. But, there is a big price discrepancy for students currently without this program.”
To pass this bill, legislators have shifted funding from a now-defunct initiative meant to give helmets to students who had previously suffered head injuries on a bike or car accident. About $6,000 will be allocated from that program, in addition to funding from student fee reserves, to pay for the pilot program.
Though some hurdles remain before the program can be implemented, such as setting up official procedures with Campus Dining Services and other partners, CUSG hopes to have the pilot program up and running by the end of the spring semester in May.
Editor’s note: For clarity, an additional paragraph has been added to this story which states the names of the bill’s authors.
Contact CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Henry Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent News Editor Bella Hammond at email@example.com.