BOSTON—With a resounding vote of support, the Massachusetts House of Representatives today passed the ACCESS bill (S 499, H 536), state legislation that will protect no-copay insurance coverage for birth control, remove existing barriers to care, and improve access to contraception for Massachusetts women.
Today’s vote comes just one month after the Trump Administration issued an Interim Final Rule allowing any organization, company, or university to deny insurance coverage for birth control to employees for any religious or undefined moral reason.
Statement from Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts:
Today, the Massachusetts House of Representatives made clear that birth control access is not up for debate in Massachusetts. While the Trump Administration is laser focused on making it harder for people to access the care they need, Massachusetts is stepping up to protect the health and wellbeing of its residents by passing the ACCESS bill and keeping birth control affordable and accessible.
A woman’s ability to take care of herself and plan her family should never be left to the whim of the federal government or her employer. The ACCESS bill is commonsense legislation that recognizes birth control is basic preventive care that keeps people healthy and saves money. I applaud the House for leading the way against the Trump Administration’s anti-women, anti-health agenda and urge the Senate to follow suit.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to cover preventive care, including contraception, with no cost-sharing, removing financial barriers to care and enabling women to choose the contraceptive method that works best for them. Under the ACA, 62 million women—including 1.4 million in Massachusetts—currently have access to no co-pay preventive care, including contraception. Thanks in large part to expanded access to birth control, rates of unintended pregnancy, pregnancy among teens, and abortion are at their lowest points in decades.
The ACCESS bill guarantees insurance coverage without cost-sharing for all FDA-approved methods of birth control where there is a therapeutic equivalent. Cost sharing will be permitted as long as at least one drug, device or product is included and covered without cost-sharing. The revised bill builds on the current protections established by the ACA and protects Massachusetts residents from proposed changes to the federal law’s contraceptive coverage requirements. If signed into law, this measure codifies the ACA’s requirement of no cost-sharing for over-the-counter emergency contraception dispensed with a prescription by allowing for no cost-sharing through a standing order. Finally, the proposal requires insurers to cover a 12-month supply of birth control in a single dispensing for any patient who has successfully completed an initial three-month prescription, which is an expansion on current ACA requirements.