November 20 2017

Governor Signs Bill Mandating Contraceptives be Covered by Insurance

By: BNEWS

 

Burlington’s representation in the State House supported a bill signed by Governor Charlie Baker today that mandates certain health benefits for women be covered by health insurance policies.

Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) joined with their legislative colleagues to enact H.4009, An Act advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security in our state, better known as the ACCESS Bill, a release from Friedman’s office states.

Filed in early January, the ACCESS Bill was viewed as both a safeguard and a worst-case-scenario means to shield Massachusetts women from regressive healthcare policy rollbacks by the federal government, the release states. The legislation simultaneously expands upon a 2006 Massachusetts contraceptive-coverage mandate and upon co-pay free contraceptive-coverage provisions enacted under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A sense of urgency to pass the ACCESS Bill was renewed with Congress’ summertime attempts to repeal the ACA, and was further stirred by the Trump Administration’s contraceptive-coverage rollback in early October. Under the bill, health plans have six months to comply with the new mandates.

“At a time when women’s health and reproductive rights are under unprecedented attack at the federal level, Massachusetts has taken the lead once again to safeguard over 1 million women who depend on access to no-copay birth control and to expand coverage for everyone,” Sen. Friedman said. “All women, regardless of economic status, should have access to affordable birth control of their choice, and the ACCESS Bill guarantees that.”

“This is a matter of fundamental fairness,” said Rep Gordon, who joined the House in a 140-16 vote. “Not only does this bill support a woman’s right to access the contraception of her choice, but it is important to families and to our economy.  Access to contraceptive treatment is a matter of health care right.”

The ACCESS Bill mandates that more options, like IUDs, be covered co-pay free, the release states. It also allows women to purchase full-year supplies of their medication in just one pharmacy visit. A mandatory benefit review conducted by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information Analysis (CHIA) estimated meager premium hikes as a result of the expanded mandate. Individuals might see increases in the range of $.07 – $.20 on their monthly premiums over five years.

However, according to a 2017 Health Policy Commission report and a 2012 federal Health and Human Services publication, the cost of co-pay free contraception is mitigated by cost savings derived from preventing unintended pregnancies.The HHS report defines the cost of co-pay free contraception as “close to zero.”

The benefits of contraceptive care are immense and well documented. As cited in the legislation’s CHIA review, benefits of contraception include: “improved women’s health and well-being, reduced maternal mortality, health benefits for mother and child associated with spacing pregnancy, female workforce engagement, and economic self-sufficiency.”


 

 
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