Upstream USA and Washington State Announce New Partnership

June 25, 2018

CONTACT: Emily Beyer,

Launch: Upstream USA and Washington State Announce New Partnership

The WA State Department of Health will launch a new four-year program with Upstream to improve contraceptive access, expanding opportunity for women and families

First Lady Trudi Inslee to serve as Honorary Chair of Advisory Committee

OLYMPIA, WA — Today, Upstream USA and the Washington State Department of Health announced Upstream Washington, a statewide partnership aimed at ensuring all women have access to the full range of birth control methods at low or no cost at health centers across the state. Starting in 2019, Upstream will provide four years of sustainable training and technical assistance to approximately 300 public and private health centers, helping them provide care to a projected reach of over 500,000 women. While the state is not providing financial resources for this partnership, the Department of Health and Health Care Authority will provide support through planning, coordination and participation in advisory committee.

“We are thrilled that Washington is our second statewide expansion,” said Mark Edwards, co-founder and co-CEO of Upstream USA. “Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, Washington has demonstrated their commitment to expanding opportunity and improving health care for all Washingtonians. Upstream Washington will empower all women to achieve their own goals of becoming pregnant only if and when they want to by ensuring women have access to the full range of contraceptive options.”

Washington State is a national leader in providing high-quality health care, including reproductive care, but approximately 35 percent of all Washington State pregnancies are unintended. Unplanned pregnancies are a leading reason young women drop out of high school and community college, creating lifelong economic barriers for women and their children. Women with unplanned pregnancies are also more likely to delay prenatal care, which can lead to negative health, social, and economic outcomes for both mother and child.

“Washington has had tremendous success in expanding health care for all and standing up for a woman’s access to contraception,” said First Lady Trudi Inslee. “I’m proud that Washington is partnering with Upstream to build on this tradition by improving access to all forms of birth control, and ensuring all women have control over their health care and future.”

Two out of five unplanned pregnancies occur to women using contraception, often because women only have access to methods that may not work well for their needs. Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs) such as IUDs and the implant are twenty times more effective than the pill, but in 2015, only 30 percent of publicly funded community health centers nationally provided same-day access, often due to a lack of training and the cost associated with stocking the contraceptives. Health centers that do offer LARCs often require multiple appointments and other administrative hurdles. Across the state, 14 of 39 counties in Washington either do not have any publicly funded sites offering LARCs or only have one site.

“We are energized about this public-private partnership to reduce unintended pregnancies,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “By providing training and technical assistance to health care providers, we can serve more people and serve them better, decrease unintended pregnancies, and support families in their goals. We know this approach will create better outcomes for families and communities such as increased graduation rates, earning potential and family stability.”

Also announced today is an Advisory Committee, supporting the growth and impact of Upstream Washington across the state. The Advisory Committee is still in formation and current members will include:

Trudi Inslee, First Lady, State of Washington (Honorary Chair)
Sue Birch, Washington State Health Care Authority
Christine Charbonneau, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
Federico Cruz-Uribe, MD, MPH, Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Cynthia Harris, Washington State Department of Health
Kirsten Harris-Talley, SurgeNW
Bob Marsalli, Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers
Linda McCarthy, Planned Parenthood of Mt. Baker
Jan Olmstead, MPA, Washington State Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities
Alison Poulsen, Better Health Together
Sarah Prager, MD, MAS, University of Washington
Kasey Rivas, MPH, March of Dimes
Valerie Tarico, PhD, Psychologist and Author
John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, Washington State Department of Health

Washington is the latest state to partner with Upstream. In 2014, former Governor Jack Markell of Delaware announced a statewide intervention in concert with the state’s Division of Public Health, Delaware CAN (Contraceptive Access Now). To date, the program has seen overwhelming success. According to a recent study, unplanned pregnancies in the state have dropped by an estimated 15 percent among Title X patients in just two years, compared to only a 1.3 percent national decrease during the same period. To date, Upstream has been able to train and assist health centers that reach almost 80 percent of women in Delaware. Additionally, patient surveys conducted at health centers reaffirm that Upstream-trained providers are empowering patients to make their own decisions about their contraception.

Upstream is a national, fast-growing nonprofit working to expand economic opportunity and mobility by reducing unplanned pregnancy in the U.S. Upstream partners with states to provide sustainable training and technical assistance to health centers to ensure all women have access to the birth control method of their choice. Upstream works by operating within the existing health care system, training medical professionals, providing guidance on how to properly bill, code and stock all forms of contraception, and informing women of all their birth control options. Upstream has trained more than 1,000 health care staff members at practices from New York City to Texas, and throughout Delaware. By 2023, Upstream’s goal is to reach health centers serving over 1 million women across the country, significantly reducing the rate of unplanned pregnancies and improving outcomes for women and their families.

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