During this global public health emergency, our thanks go out to the health care professionals and community leaders on the frontlines of keeping Washingtonians safe. All of us at Upstream are thinking about the health and safety of you and your loved ones.
We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Jay Inslee in declaring contraceptive care an essential service in Washington state, and wanted to highlight new and existing resources to support contraceptive access as we navigate this challenging time together.
Upstream’s COVID-19 Resource Page
Upstream has launched a webpage for health centers with the latest information regarding contraceptive care during COVID-19. This includes guidelines on counseling, stocking, and leveraging telehealth for contraceptive care, as well as the following toolkits:
Washington has expanded telehealth resources that can help health centers sustain contraceptive access:
- The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) has expanded reimbursement to deliver health care services by audio/visual and phone for Medicaid patients. Temporary reimbursement for telemedicine also applies to the Family Planning Only program.
- HCA has purchased Zoom telehealth technology licenses to support providers who may not already have access to a HIPAA-compliant tool. If you are a health care provider who needs access to this technology, visit HCA’s Zoom application page.
- Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order directing state-regulated health insurers to cover additional methods for telehealth, including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and GoToMeeting.
In addition to telehealth reimbursement expansions, the Washington State Department of Health Family Planning Network is providing reimbursement for patients under the same billing used for the HCA’s Family Planning Only program. This allows providers more flexibility by simplifying the billing process and ensures patients have access to the care they need.
Pharmacists have a critical role to play in ensuring continued contraceptive access:
- Based on the Governor’s emergency proclamation, emergency rules for prescription refills are now in effect. Pharmacists may grant an emergency refill of an expired prescription for up to a thirty-day supply for a maintenance medication, including most birth control, if the pharmacist is unable to obtain refill authorization from the prescriber.
- Washington allows for 12 month prescriptions for birth control pills, and Upstream continues to recommend that prescribers and pharmacists provide a one-year supply.
We understand that some health centers may be over capacity. As always, Upstream is proud to partner with Planned Parenthood and recommends referring patients to the following health centers if additional capacity is needed:
- Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood serving Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan counties
- Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette serving Clark County
- Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands serving all other Western Washington counties, including King, Pierce and Snohomish
- Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho serving Eastern Washington and North Idaho
Upstream is eager to be a resource and partner. We are all learning together and responding quickly to ensure patients are still able to access the contraceptive care they want on their own terms. If we can support you in additional ways, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.