Bush Administration Continues Emergency Contraception, Medicaid Reform Efforts
The New York Times on Sunday examined the question of whether President Bush can "recover the political clout to continue to advance his conservative domestic goals." According to the Times, "major parts of the president's agenda," such as efforts on the issues of the emergency contraceptive Plan B and Medicaid, "are rolling on" (Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 3/5). Summaries appear below.
FDA has delayed a decision on an application for over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, despite recommendations from an independent advisory committee and agency staff that "the benefits of easy access to the pill outweighed any possible risks," the Times reports.
Susan Wood, director of the FDA office of women's health, resigned in August 2005 because of alleged politicization of the Plan B decision.
Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew Von Eschenbach last month suggested to a House subcommittee that the agency would not make decision on Plan B in the near future (Harris, New York Times, 3/5).
"Conservatives say the Bush administration has not done much to cut the growth" of entitlement programs, but Bush "won a big victory on Medicaid last month" with the enactment of the fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation law, the Times reports. Under the law, states can reduce benefits and end coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries who fail to pay premiums.
In addition, the law allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions and providers to refuse to provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries who fail to make copayments. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law will increase health care costs for millions of Medicaid beneficiaries (Pear, New York Times, 3/5).