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On the heels of the first ever United State of Women Summit, the Obama Administration is pushing state Medicaid programs to improve access to contraception, including requiring states to make sure low-income women can freely choose their method of birth control and requiring states to cover all long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) services, including the device, insertion, and removal.  

In addition, the administration’s guidance again makes clear that recent politically motivated efforts to block Planned Parenthood patients from accessing preventive care — like birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV and STD testing — through Medicaid violates long-standing federal law.  

Quote from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“The United State of Women Summit underscored the power and strength of women and girls across the country. Now, with this policy, the Obama administration is redoubling its commitment to investing in women, girls, and their futures.

“We know that without bodily autonomy, a woman cannot achieve her dreams. That’s why Planned Parenthood commends the administration for requiring states to fully cover long-acting reversible contraception, such as IUDs, from insertion to removal, in addition to other birth control methods, so that a woman is able to access the birth control method that works best for her. A woman’s ability to access birth control should never depend on her income or her zip code. And women should be able to turn to the provider they trust, not be turned away because of some politician’s ideological agenda. It’s high time that the politicians attacking Planned Parenthood listen to this administration, and back down from their efforts to cut access to our trusted health centers. This guidance is a meaningful step forward to expanding family planning, keeping individuals healthy, and empowering women across our country.”

The guidance from the Center for Medicaid and CHIP (CMCS) implicitly underscores that women with lower incomes should have the same access to the birth control benefit that higher income women do. Many states, such as Oklahoma and Florida, have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making preventive care, like birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings, out of reach for over a million low-income women. Yesterday’s guidance is an important step forward to make sure that all women -- regardless of their income or type of insurance coverage -- are able to access the care they need without barrier or interference.

Today’s guidance is one of four pieces of policy the administration has issued since April to ensure women’s access to family planning care from trusted providers. These other pieces of guidance include:

  • A letter making clear that states cannot arbitrarily exclude qualified family planning providers from their Medicaid programs.

  • A final rule that prohibits managed care plans from imposing barriers to contraception, like harmful “step therapy” regimens that require women to try a certain contraceptive first, even if their doctor recommended against it or the contraceptive method is not compatible with their personal choice or lifestyle, before accessing their preferred method.

  • A bulletin that details state strategies to improve Medicaid enrollees' access to LARCs so that women can have unimpeded access to all contraceptive methods, including LARCs.

  • A bulletin that encourages states to improve access to family planning services as a response to the Zika virus.