Planned Parenthood birth control app to expand to all 50 states by end of 2020

Planned Parenthood birth control app to expand to all 50 states by end of 2020
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Planned Parenthood says it will expand its telemedicine app to all 50 states by the end of 2020, making it easier for women to access birth control and other prescription drugs without visiting a doctor's office. 

The announcement comes after the Trump administration effectively banned Planned Parenthood from the Title X family planning program, amounting to a funding loss of $60 million a year for the organization. 

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"As politicians across the country try to further restrict or block access to reproductive and sexual health care, Planned Parenthood is working every day to increase access to care for all people," Planned Parenthood acting President Alexis McGill Johnson told reporters on Wednesday. 

"We know there is currently a vast, unmet need for sexual and reproductive health care in the U.S."

Planned Parenthood left the Title X program last month after the Trump administration said it must comply with new rules banning providers from referring women for abortions.

Because of the funding loss, some Planned Parenthood clinics might have to cut staff, services or hours. 

The group said it's hoping to reach as many people as possible by expanding its app. 

The Planned Parenthood Direct app, which currently operates in 27 states, allows patients to get ten types of birth control pills through the mail without visiting a doctor or Planned Parenthood clinic. 

In the app, patients answers a series of questions about their medical histories that are then reviewed by Planned Parenthood clinicians who will decide whether to approve or deny a request. 

Patients with high blood pressure, for example, might be asked to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic in person. 

The birth control ring and patch aren't available for mail order but patients can get prescriptions sent to local pharmacies without needing to visit a doctor. 

Patients can also get prescriptions for medication to treat urinary tract infections sent to their pharmacies. 

Planned Parenthood doesn't accept insurance or Medicaid for birth control pills that are mailed, but says the costs range from $15 to $25 per pack.

For prescription drugs that need to be picked up at a pharmacy, patients must pay Planned Parenthood between $15 and $25 for a "visit fee" and also pay for the drugs at the pharmacy.

Appointments to get the implant, shot or an IUD at a Planned Parenthood clinic can be made through the app. 

The app is available in 27 states and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

Mail order birth control has soared in popularity as reproductive health advocates try to find solutions to so-called "contraception deserts" in rural areas. 

About 19.5 million people live in these deserts, meaning they lack access in their county to a health center that offers the full range of contraceptive methods, according to Power to Decide, a reproductive rights research group in Washington, D.C.