Concord, NH - Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, joined by a broad coalition of health care providers, advocates, and organizations, announced the campaign to Advance Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security Statewide (or ACCESS). This campaign’s goal is to pass SB 421, which would increase access to contraception for Granite State women.
SB 421 enhances New Hampshire’s Contraceptive Equity Law to reflect current coverage and best medical practices by incorporating no cost-sharing contraceptive protections and adding an insurance coverage requirement to include a 12-month supply of prescribed, self-administered contraceptives at each dispensing interval. This proposal would improve women’s health and economic security, and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in New Hampshire.
Senator Donna Soucy introducing SB 421
“New Hampshire has a long standing, bipartisan commitment to ensuring women are able to access affordable contraception to manage their health and avoid unintended pregnancies. SB 421 builds on that tradition by removing costly barriers which will ensure more women are able to choose effective birth control methods,” said Senator Donna Soucy, prime sponsor of SB 421.
Senate Bill 421 is the result of a bipartisan, multi-stakeholder Commission, which formed out of HB 264, (establishing a commission to study allowing pharmacists to prescribe or make available via protocol oral contraceptives and certain related medications) and met during the fall of 2017. This Commission, which issued a final report in November of 2017, unanimously endorsed this legislation.
“Passing SB 421 will give New Hampshire women the ability to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy, which is good for women, good for families, good for our economy, and good for the Granite State,” said bill co-sponsor Representative William Marsh, member of the HB 264 Commission.
Dr. Ellen Joyce, chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in New Hampshire (ACOG) and an OB/GYN at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, said “43% of all pregnancies in New Hampshire are unintended. Most women must refill their birth control prescriptions each month, which can prove to be a burden for women who lack transportation, live in rural areas, move frequently, are in recovery from substance misuse, or struggle to balance hectic work schedules. One in four women report they have missed birth control pills because they could not get the next pack in time. Consistent use of birth control is the most effective method of preventing pregnancy among sexually active women.”
Dr. Ellen Joyce, chair of ACOG NH, speaking in favor of SB 421
Joining the bipartisan group of lawmakers was a broad coalition of health care providers, advocates and organizations that support the passage of SB 421, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), New Futures, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, the Equality Health Center, the Joan G Lovering Health Center, ACLU of New Hampshire, and the YWCA of New Hampshire.
Background on ACCESS Campaign
The policies behind SB 421 were developed by a bipartisan, multi-stakeholder study commission composed of legislators, medical professionals and public health experts who unanimously endorsed this legislation. The proposed legislation updates New Hampshire’s long-standing “Contraceptive Equity Law” to protect New Hampshire women against the current attacks on contraception at the federal level and adds a coverage requirement for 12 month supply of contraception at a single dispensing period New Hampshire originally passed SB 175 in 1999, which required insurers that covered prescription medication to cover contraceptive services, including covering contraceptive drugs and devices.
Access to a multiple month supply is in line with the recommendations for Quality Family Planning Services issued by the CDC and the Office of Population Affairs, which recommended that providers should “provide or prescribe multiple cycles (ideally a full year’s supply) of oral contraceptive pills, the patch, or the ring” to reduce barriers to care and facilitate consistent use of contraception. According to studies, inconsistent use of contraception accounts for 41 percent of unintended pregnancies.
SB 421 recognizes that women use birth control for a variety of reasons — in fact, 58 percent of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (which is prevalent among women of color), fibroids, and menstrual regulation.
There is a real need for affordable birth control in the Granite State. The Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, found that “65,530 women in New Hampshire were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies.”