Wednesday, April 26, 2017
FiveThirtyEight (April 24, 2017): Some States Are Making it Easier to Get Birth Control, by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux:
As we wait to see whether the Trump Administration will get rid of the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), some states are taking steps to protect contraceptive access.
Unlike other controversial parts of the ACA, [the contraceptive mandate] is controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services, which could unilaterally drop birth control from Obamacare’s list of fully covered preventive services, allowing insurers to charge co-pays for contraception again. If the mandate were revoked or weakened, insurers could return to the pre-Obamacare status quo, where women shouldered more out-of-pocket expenses for contraception.
Perhaps motivated by federal threats to birth control several states have passed or introduced laws that could maintain or expand women's access to contraceptives. Some states have passed laws that would reinforce or expand the contraceptive mandate. Others have passed laws requiring that insurers provide a 12 month supply of birth control. These laws are intended to make it easier for women to obtain contraceptives by decreasing trips to the pharmacy. Finally, states have passed laws allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control.
While it is good to see that state innovation in expanding access to birth control, advocates are worried about the growing disparities between states. An OB-GYN from Washington cautioned:
It’s great that big states like New York are making this a priority, because they can affect a lot of women,” she said. “But the more politicized the issue of women’s health becomes, the more women’s birth control access really will depend on where they happen to live.”