We’ve known that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit has had a target on it ever since we knew Donald Trump would become our president. But a leaked draft of the Trump Administration’s plans to change the birth control benefit makes it abundantly clear just how far they will go to ensure women can’t get birth control.
The Trump Administration is giving the green light to ANY boss to take birth control coverage away from their employees.
Currently, there is an exemption to the birth control benefit for houses of worship – their employees do not get birth control coverage. There is also an accommodation for certain non-profits and closely-held for-profits that object to birth control based on their religious beliefs – allowing them to opt out but ensuring that their employees get the coverage directly from the insurance company. The leaked draft would dramatically expand the exemption. It would include any kind of employer, college, or university with either moral or religious objections and any health insurance company with religious or moral objections.
This all amounts to one disgusting result: if what is in the leaked draft ends up in the final rule, countless women will lose access to no-cost birth control coverage.
This will leave women on their own to find and afford birth control coverage. We know that is not a small thing: prior to the ACA, some women chose to forgo birth control because of cost. Co-pays as low as $6 deterred women from obtaining the health care that they needed, let alone the up-front costs of an intrauterine device (IUD) which could be close to $1000, putting it out of reach for many women. To add insult to injury, the leaked draft says that individuals who don’t have birth control coverage can simply obtain birth control through Title X, Medicaid or other federal, state, and local programs. It’s as if the drafters have conveniently forgotten that they are simultaneously trying to undermine the Title X family planning program and destroy Medicaid. In other words, women will be left with no options to access an essential health care service that 99% of sexually active women have used at one point in their lives. That is outrageous.
The birth control benefit was created to remedy longstanding discrimination in health care, and we know that it is working to do that while at the same time improving women’s economic security. But if what was in the leaked draft becomes the final rule, the Trump Administration will have given employers, schools, and insurance companies permission to use their religion to discriminate against their employees, students, and enrollees.
If all of this has you as riled up as I am, join NWLC in telling the agencies working on this rule that it must be stopped.