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For Immediate Release: July 31, 2017
Contact: Christine Sadovy – 609.510.4684, [email protected]

New Jersey Women One Vote Closer to Increased Access to Birth Control

TRENTON, NJ – Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey is celebrating that New Jersey women are one vote closer to increased access to birth control after an Assembly vote on legislation requiring insurance companies to cover costs for dispensing up to six months of contraceptives at one time.

Today, the New Jersey Assembly voted (60-2-6) to pass A2297 after Governor Christie issued a

conditional veto of the original legislation. Governor Christie has been know to play politics with women’s health care having cut $7.45 million from the state budget in 2010 for lifesaving family planning services and has vetoed attempts to restore that funding seven times.

In a surprising role reversal, the Governor wants to remake his image and appear more concerned about women’s access to birth control.  It’s a move that New Jersey wants considering a June 2017 poll released by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers found that 78 percent of New Jersey voters support state funding for family planning services and a large majority (75 percent) also support the current federal health care law’s requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control, including 42 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of conservatives.

The original legislation, sponsored by Asw. Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Sen. Shirley Turner, called for 12 months of birth control to be dispensed and covered by insurance.  The bi-partisan legislation passed with overwhelming support in both the Assembly and Senate. However, the Governor changed the legislation to limit insurance coverage for contraceptives to only six months. Today the Assembly voted to accept the changes and now the legislation also has to be passed by the Senate.

“For birth control to be most effective, consistency is critical,” said Christine Sadovy, Legislative and Political Director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “For many women in New Jersey, whether they are working multiple jobs or have young children to care for, receiving only one-month’s supply of contraceptives at a time can be a hurdle to effective use. Increasing the supply of birth control pills or other contraceptive method a woman can take home with her removes a major barrier to consistent and effective contraception use.”

Currently, private insurance companies will only allow pharmacies and health care providers to dispense one or three month’s supply of oral contraceptives. However, studies show that decreasing barriers to contraceptive access improves women’s use of birth control, decreases inconvenience for women, and reduces health care costs by improving consistent use of a birth control method and decreasing unintended pregnancy – a win for everyone involved. According to a study from University of California at San Francisco, dispensing a one-year supply of birth control at a time is associated with a 30% reduction in the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy.

Birth control restrictions and supply limits increase the likelihood that a woman will discontinue her birth control. According to studies published by Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the leading reason for birth control discontinuation is running out of birth control pills along with difficulty in access. In fact, continuation of birth control pills decreases when women need to routinely visit a pharmacy to obtain additional pills. The added step of visiting the pharmacy for refills is a significant barrier for women.

Significantly, access to a greater supply of birth control at one time leads to cost savings and also improves access to preventive care. A study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that dispensing a one-year supply of contraceptives reduced costs to Medicaid by reducing the total visits to a health care provider each year. Yet, women receiving a one-year supply were more likely to have a Pap test and STD testing during the year compared to women dispensed fewer cycles, despite having one fewer total visit during the year.

The combined positive impact of increased consistency of birth control use and decreased inconvenience on the part of women, plus cost savings for payers and improved access to preventive care makes this legislation a win for everyone involved.