A lot of politicians are pushing over-the-counter birth control these days — but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way is promising to make birth control over-the-counter while simultaneously pulling the rug out from under the birth control benefit, like some politicians are doing. The right way to do it is with a new bill in Congress, the Affordability IS Access Act, which would make the birth control pill available over-the-counter while protecting the insurance coverage that keeps it affordable.
That’s the key to expanding birth control access: affordability.
Solid Over-the-Counter Birth Control Bill
Leading women’s health experts, providers, medical associations, and pharmacists — including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — are in favor of birth control going over-the-counter in a way that ensures women can have safe, convenient, and affordable access to contraception.
The Affordability IS Access Act — which was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on June 9 with nearly 30 co-sponsors — would do just that:
- After the medical and scientific experts at the FDA determined that a birth control pill is OK for daily use without a prescription, the bill would make it available over-the-counter.
- The bill would ensure that insurance companies continue to cover the cost of birth control without a copay.
Sham Over-the-Counter Birth Control Bill
Anti-women’s health politicians are also pushing an over-the-counter birth control bill — but don’t be fooled. The bill introduced last month by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) does NOT guarantee that birth control sold over-the-counter is covered by insurance, which is what keeps birth control affordable for millions of women.
Whereas Sen. Murray’s bill would expand women’s access to birth control, Sens. Ayotte and Gardner’s proposal would force women to pay twice for their birth control: once for their insurance policy... and again out-of-pocket. That means it could force women to pay up to $600 more a year on their birth control prescriptions.
The sham is no surprise given the GOP leaders’ records on women’s health: They have repeatedly voted to take away insurance coverage and deny women access to birth control.
Women Deserve Affordable Birth Control
We said it before, and we’ll say it again: Affordability is key for expanding birth control access to all women. But Sens. Gardner and Ayotte’s bill would actually cost women more money. Without insurance coverage, women could go back to the days of spending up to $600 per year on birth control out-of-pocket.
The more than 55 million women who are currently able to get all FDA-approved forms of birth control (including IUDs) with no out-of-pocket costs deserve to have that affordability protected. The Affordability IS Access bill does just that, while also expanding access for the pill.