"A 1990 federal law... allowed pharmaceutical companies to give deep discounts to college and university health centers without affecting the 'best price' they are required to give Medicaid." That is, they were permitted--- but not required--- to give discounts to health centers serving college and university students, without affecting the prices Medicaid would pay. Many manufacturers gave deep discounts for birth-control pills, hoping to build brand loyalty.
In 2005, the law was changed to restrict the list of providers a bit more (Congress thought that drug companies were giving discounts out too freely, flouting the intention of the 1990 law), and colleges and universities got left off the list. As a result, birth-control pills have increased in price on college campuses. Lawmakers say that was an oversight--- one that wasn't corrected before it went into effect in January 2007.
In March, Democratic Reps. Joseph Crowley and Tim Ryan tried to add the fix to a supplemental war-spending bill. But other lawmakers reportedly cringed at mixing birth control with the troops. In November, Crowley and Ryan, along with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican Reps. Jim Ramstad and Mark Kirk, introduced a stand-alone bill; and Sens. Obama and McCaskill did the same in the Senate. But despite some bipartisan support, these measures haven't gotten very far. Behind the scenes, conservatives have insinuated that the correction would cost the government money and be a boondoggle for abortion-lovers. "When they tried to slip this in a bill earlier this year, we called it the 'Planned Parenthood discount drug earmark,' " a Republican aide reportedly said. "It will be even less popular now." (Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are actually still eligible for the discounts.)
Yes, I'm sure that's a winning issue: making birth control more expensive for college-age women. Go, Republicans!