New York women insured by Medicaid will now have the option of receiving an intrauterine device or contraceptive implant immediately following childbirth, sparing them the additional step of booking an inconvenient follow-up appointment, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett announced yesterday.

"The average woman spends five years either pregnant or postpartum or trying to conceive, and three decades trying to avoid an unintended pregnancy," Bassett said. "Our goal is to ensure that all women, regardless of life circumstances or ability to pay, can make informed decisions about their reproductive health and act on these choices by receiving accurate information and easy to access to a full range of birth control options.”

The policy, in which health care providers are reimbursed by Medicaid, actually went into effect in April, but was not officially announced until today due to difficulty "getting everyone together," Bassett said. New York is the second state, behind South Carolina, to provide reimbursement to health care providers for immediate postpartum contraception.

Dr. Laura MacIsaac, who heads the Family Planning Division of Mount Sinai Beth Israel, said as a provider, she's been frustrated by the bureaucratic red tape that's come between her and her ability to provide her patients with the reproductive care they want.

IUDs are small devices that ominously resemble dainty fish hooks, which can be inserted into the uterus in a procedure described as "mild to moderately" painful. Once in, however, IUDs are 99 percent effective, and last up to three to 10 years. They can be removed at any time with virtually no impact on a woman's ability to become pregnant after.