Concord, NH - Yesterday lawmakers, joined by a broad coalition of health care providers, advocates, and organizations, introduced SB 421, legislation that will Advance Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security Statewide (or ACCESS). This bill will 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.
“SB 421 is a common sense, bipartisan solution that will improve New Hampshire women’s access to basic and preventive health care, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and increase education and economic opportunities for women - all of which are good for the state’s economy. Passage of this bill means that New Hampshire can significantly improve access to contraception and further reduce our rate of unintended pregnancy by protecting and expanding access to basic, preventative health care for women, regardless of their economic status,” said Senator Donna Soucy, prime sponsor of SB 421.
A bipartisan, multi-stakeholder Commission, established by HB 264, unanimously endorsed this legislation in the fall of 2017 (the Commission, issued a final report in November of 2017).
“Consistent use of birth control is the best way to avoid unintended pregnancies,” said Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “One in four women says she has missed taking birth control pills because she could not get the next pill pack in time. New Hampshire has a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to ensuring women are able to access affordable contraception to manage their health and avoid unplanned pregnancies. SB 421 builds on that tradition by removing costly barriers, and ensuring more women are able to choose effective birth control methods that save money in the long run.”
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 NH Action Fund, 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, New Hampshire Public Health Association, New Hampshire Nurses Association, Bi-State Primary Care Association, National Association of Social Workers - New Hampshire Chapter, 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. In 2014, the Guttmacher Institute found that “65,530 women in New Hampshire were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies.”
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care for women, men and teens across the State of New Hampshire. We serve New Hampshire residents through 6 health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. Last year we saw more than 11,000 patients at these sites.
Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.