Posted on June 13, 2019 Issues: Birth Control Health Care & Reproductive Rights

(Washington, D.C) Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Katie Hill (D-CA) and Ami Bera (D-CA) introduced The Affordability is Access Act. This bill would make sure that women will not face unnecessary barriers when getting over-the-counter (OTC) birth control covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Under the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, health plans must cover all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods for women, including OTC methods. However, in implementing the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury issued guidance permitting health insurance plans to require that an individual get a prescription in order to receive coverage for the OTC method without cost-sharing. This undermines the benefit, because forcing individuals to first see a provider or otherwise obtain a prescription can increase costs and act as a barrier to getting the method they need.

The Affordability is Access Act would direct the Secretaries of HHS, Labor, and Treasury to require health plans to cover OTC methods of birth control for women without cost-sharing, regardless of whether someone has a prescription. This ensures coverage – and improves access – to any current over-the-counter birth control methods and also guarantees coverage for any future approved OTC birth control methods for women.

The following is a statement by Gretchen Borchelt, NWLC Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health: The Affordability is Access Act would eliminate barriers to over-the-counter birth control, helping ensure that individuals have access to birth control when they need it. Requiring a prescription for an OTC method undermines the very benefit such methods offer – that an individual can access the method without first needing to visit a provider or otherwise take steps to secure a prescription. People should not have to make decisions about their reproductive health care based on cost, or on when they can make an appointment with a provider. The Affordability is Access Act would help us get closer to guaranteeing that over-the-counter birth control is accessible and affordable for anyone who needs it.

For immediate release: June 13, 2019
Contact: Inés Rénique (irenique@nwlc.org)

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