MEDIA ADVISORY — To increase access to contraception in North Carolina, NCDHHS through NC Medicaid, is now enrolling pharmacists as Medicaid providers and paying for contraceptive counseling services provided in pharmacies. State health leaders will attend an event on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to celebrate the actions taken by NC Medicaid to make these important services more accessible to North Carolinians.

Expanding access to reproductive life planning is a critical component of NCDHHS’ commitment to improving the health and well-being of children and families across North Carolina. Access to contraception empowers people to make informed choices about if and when they want to have children, decreases unintended pregnancies and promotes the educational and professional advancement of parents.

“Our goal is that all families have the opportunity to thrive,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer for NCDHHS. “More than half of all pregnancies in North Carolina are unintended, which can unfortunately lead to poor maternal and infant outcomes. By expanding access to contraception and counseling services, we can improve the health of moms, babies and families throughout North Carolina.”

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law in 2021 authorizing pharmacists to dispense contraception, along with several other medications, without a prescription from a provider. Initially, pharmacists could dispense these medications through a Statewide Standing Order from the State Health Director. Subsequently, the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy and Medical Board adopted the standing orders as approved protocols under which pharmacists can dispense medications. These medications are covered by Medicaid without a co-pay or other cost sharing.

However, a lack of reimbursement for the required evaluation, risk assessment and counseling services was identified by pharmacies as a barrier to implementation. Actions taken by NC Medicaid will lessen that barrier.

“NC Medicaid values pharmacists and their contribution to the care of our members, especially those who are in the harder-to-reach rural areas of North Carolina where physician practices are more limited,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for NC Medicaid Jay Ludlam. ”By supporting our pharmacists, authorized by this legislation, NCDHHS aims to provide more access to contraception for those covered by Medicaid.”

NCDHHS has worked to expand access to contraception through multiple other initiatives, including advancing same-day access to all types of contraception and providing Medicaid reimbursement for immediate post-partum, long-acting reversible contraception.

WHAT: State health leaders discuss NC Medicaid’s actions to increase access to contraception counseling at pharmacies.

WHO: Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, M.D., State Health Director and the Chief Medical Officer, NCDHHS
Dr. Mollie Ashe Scott, PharmD, Regional Associate Dean and Clinical Professor, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy 
Dr. Angela Smith, PharmD, DHA, Director of Pharmacy & Ancillary Services, NC Medicaid, NCDHHS
Dr. Jennifer Burch, PharmD, RPH, Central Pharmacy

WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024
2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Central Pharmacy
2609 N. Duke St. #103
Durham, NC 27704

MEDIA: Credentialed media are invited to attend and arrive at 2:20 p.m. to set up and get b-roll of the pharmacy. Please RSVP to [email protected].