WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Action Fund today praised Representatives Tammy Duckworth, Tim Murphy and Joseph Crowley and their allies in Congress for continued efforts to ensure birth control remains affordable for women if it becomes available over-the-counter. The Affordability is Access Act mirrors a similar proposal in the Senate. Unlike counter-proposals put forward by Senators Ayotte and Gardner, the Affordability is Access Act builds upon the progress women have seen thanks to the Affordable Care Act, with a recent study showing that the birth control benefit has saved women $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no-copay birth control has had on women’s lives.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Simply put: When we expand access to birth control, it gives women control over their lives and their futures.  But to be truly accessible, birth control must be affordable. That’s why Planned Parenthood Action Fund, alongside leading medical experts including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supports genuine efforts to make birth control available over-the-counter, but only if it remains covered by insurance without a copay.

“For women all across the country, the birth control benefit has meant money in their pocket and a freedom from the economic stress of one more bill to pay. It should go without saying that rolling back that progress is deeply unpopular — even among Republican voters.

“At Planned Parenthood Action Fund, we worked very hard to make sure that birth control would be covered by insurance for all women under the Affordable Care Act. Even though we still have a lot of work to do to make it a reality, women are already saving $1.4 billion on birth control pills. They’re not willing to go back.”

Quick Facts:

  • Without insurance coverage, birth control pills can cost up to $600 a year, out of reach for many women already struggling.
  • Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, more than 55 million women are now eligible for birth control without a copay.
  • recent study published in Health Affairs found that the Affordable Care Act, a law that every GOP candidate has called to repeal, has saved women $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no-copay birth control has had on women’s lives.
  • Leading medical experts including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) believe birth control pills should be available without a prescription over-the-counter, but only if they continue to be fully covered by insurance. 
  • The decision to bring birth control over-the-counter should be left to the medical experts and scientists at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which is what this bill would do.

Bill Background:

The Affordability is Access Act would expand access to birth control by encouraging the availability of over-the-counter birth control pills while also ensuring access to insurance coverage of birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. This important legislation recognizes that in order to increase women’s access to the birth control pill, it must be both easier to obtain and afford. This legislation makes clear that the determination as to whether a drug should be available for use without a prescription is appropriately and solely made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and when a birth control product is made available over-the-counter, it should be covered by health insurance, without a prescription and without out-of-pocket costs, as already required by current law.  Women already paying for health insurance that includes birth control should not have to pay again when obtaining the birth control pill over-the-counter.

How does the Affordability is Access Act help more women gain access to birth control?

  1. Ensures that coverage of comprehensive preventive health services includes full access to oral contraception for routine, daily over-the-counter use for all women. All private health insurance plans are now required to cover all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods of contraception. The Act would ensure coverage of all oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use obtained without a prescription.
     
  2. Maintains the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety, quality, and efficacy of drugs and make them available over-the-counter without a prescription.  It is imperative that the entities that research and develop oral contraceptives, and whose medical and scientific experts have developed clinical and other evidence that birth control pills are safe and effective for women when sold without a prescription, apply to the FDA for review and approval for sale without a prescription.

    Upon the receipt of such an application, the FDA must determine whether the contraceptive product meets the rigorous safety, efficacy, and quality standards for over-the-counter use, as established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  If the product meets these standards, the FDA should approve the application without delay. 
     
  3. Ensures retailers provide oral contraception without a prescription.  The Act requires any retailer that stocks oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraception.