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State computer glitch snarls birth control prescriptions

January 5, 2010 |  6:23 pm

A state computer glitch prevented uninsured and low-income people from filling prescriptions for birth control this week.

Officials at the California Department of Public Health said they began receiving complaints at 9 a.m. Tuesday from pharmacies, clinics and other providers unable to fill birth control prescriptions covered by the department’s Family Planning Access Care Treatment program.

The program covers about 2 million men and women statewide, including those covered by Medi-Cal.

State officials said the glitch prevented providers from dispensing the usual three-month supplies of contraceptives covered by the program, limiting them to a month’s supply. Staff at some Los Angeles-area pharmacies said they had been unable to fill even partial prescriptions covered by the program and that problems began on Sunday.

State staff traced the glitch to computer system updates by a contractor that took effect Jan. 1. The contractor made necessary repairs and fixed the problem by 2:55 p.m. Tuesday, state officials said.

They directed those with additional questions or concerns to contact the Office of Family Planning (916) 650-0414.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske