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Insurance companies will be required to cover up to 12 months of birth control

Portland, MAINE --- Maine women will soon be able to obtain up to 12-months of birth control at a time. LD 1237, a bill to eliminate medically-unnecessary restrictions on insurance coverage of contraception, became law earlier today without the governor’s signature. The policy also codifies in Maine law aspects of the Affordable Care Act that mandate no copay coverage of birth control in insurance plans. This protection will remain regardless of federal rule changes concerning no copay birth control.

“This is fantastic news for women,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Birth control is basic health care for women and eliminating arbitrary restrictions on insurance coverage of birth control will ensure more Maine women are able to effectively use the birth control method that works best for them.”

In an editorial in support of the bill, the Portland Press Herald noted that inconsistent use of birth control accounts for 41 percent of unintended pregnancies, and a recent study found that one in four women has missed a birth control pill because she was unable to get a new pack in time.

Consistent use of birth control is the most effective method of preventing pregnancy, but birth control pills must be taken every day--even one missed pill can leave a woman susceptible to an unintended pregnancy.

“As a struggling single mother working a full-time job, it would have been much more convenient for me to obtain 12 months’ worth of birth control at a time,” said Amy Mihill of Portland, a supporter of the bill. “Transportation was an issue for me as I did not have my driver's license or an automobile; I either walked or depended on someone to give me a ride to pick up prescriptions.  Living in Portland, it was easier for me to access the pharmacy. However, if I lived in a more rural area, it would have been challenging for me to visit the pharmacy quarterly, and nearly impossible to do so monthly.”

Both the CDC and the US Office of Population Affairs recommend providing or prescribing multiple cycles, ideally a full year’s supply, of birth control to reduce barriers to care and facilitate consistent use of contraception.

Research has found that providing 12 months of birth control leads to a 30% reduction in unintended pregnancies and a 46% reduction in abortion.

California, Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, and the District of Columbia already allow up to 12 months of birth control at a time and Virginia and South Carolina have passed similar measures this year.

Last month, a leaked rule appeared to unveil the Trump administration’s intent to significantly roll back access to birth control through the Affordable Care Act. The rule, if issued in the leaked format, will allow any employer or school (nonprofit or for-profit) to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage, for religious or moral reasons. It also allows  insurers to opt out of providing coverage, on the basis of any religious or moral objection, and for the first time would allow individuals to request their health insurance companies not cover birth control.

However, LD 1237 will guarantee Maine women access to no copay birth control through their insurance. Maine employers will not be able to opt out of birth control coverage per the leaked Trump Administration rule.