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Veto Affects Birth Control Prices



President George W. Bush’s Tuesday night veto of the war spending bill not only halts Congressional members’ attempts to regulate the U.S. occupation of Iraq, it also complicates efforts to decrease birth control prices at universities across the nation.

Though the bill, which passed in the Senate last week, mainly focused on emergency war spending and a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, it also included a number of unrelated initiatives concerning health care, the minimum wage and small business. Bush exercised his veto power for only the second time during his presidency, citing these extraneous expenses, in addition of course to the July 1 to October 1 withdrawal deadline.

“The bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non-emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror,” Bush said during a Tuesday night televised speech. “Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits and not as a part of an emergency funding bill for our troops.”

Congresswoman Lois Capps’ Press Secretary Emily Kryder said part of the bill was an attempt to counter the effects that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 had on campus healthcare centers’ birth control prices.

Part of the recent efforts to revamp Medicaid and provide “healthcare for all,” the act limited the number of facilities that qualify for discounted prices from numerous drug companies on products such as birth control. Because the act focused on low-income families, these subsidies on healthcare were not extended to campuses and their tuition-paying college students, and thus contraceptives at UCSB Student Health now range in price from $21.42 to $65.72 for one month – significantly more expensive than in years past.

“Congress attempted to fix the unintended consequences of [birth control] prices rising,” Kryder said. “Unfortunately, the president vetoed the decision [Tuesday] night.”

With the future of the bill uncertain in light of the failed attempt to override the veto with a two-thirds majority yesterday afternoon, UCSB Student Health Pharmacist Diane Bell said she hopes the government will revisit the issue.

“For some, it is going to be a significant financial strain … I hope that the current administration and Congress will give this issue more serious consideration in the coming months and try to correct this situation,” Bell said.

Legislators met with Bush Wednesday to discuss a possible resolution to the impasse. Bush said in his speech Tuesday that he asked for the emergency-spending bill 12 weeks ago to help fund the troops that remain in Iraq.

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