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BOSTON—The Massachusetts state Senate today overwhelmingly 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 less than a week after the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved the bill 140-16. State lawmakers have taken swift action to protect no-copay birth control in the wake of the Trump Administration’s 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:

I applaud the Massachusetts Senate for protecting the health and well-being of Massachusetts women and families by swiftly passing the ACCESS bill. Birth control is basic preventive health care that helps women stay healthy and improves the wellbeing of children and families. At a time when women’s health and health care access are in the crosshairs of D.C. politicians, Massachusetts can lead the charge against these politically motivated attacks by safeguarding and improving health care access.

The ACCESS bill is widely supported commonsense legislation that will ensure women can access the health care they need without costly barriers or delays. I appreciate Governor Baker’s public support for reproductive health and hope he will quickly put those supportive words into action by signing this important legislation. The women of Massachusetts cannot afford to wait.

BACKGROUND:

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.  The bill builds on the current protections established by the ACA and protects Massachusetts residents from 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.