Legislation Proposed for Access to Over-the-Counter Birth Control

Legislation Proposed for Access to Over-the-Counter Birth Control

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Murray’s new legislation would build on contraceptive coverage access in Affordable Care Act, make sure insurance companies cover over-the-counter daily birth control pills without a prescription

6ab1c7dbd04da033_640_womenTuesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced the Affordability is Access Act, a new bill that would build on contraception coverage access in the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that when the FDA approves birth control pills for over the counter use, they will be covered without cost sharing and without the need for a prescription. The legislation would help expand women’s access to affordable birth control while maintaining the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and quality of drugs.

“…anyone will tell you that if something is too expensive, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to get. It might as well be on the moon,” Murray said.

In a call with leaders from NARAL Pro Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Murray highlighted that the Affordability is Access Act would allow women to have access to convenient, FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control pills without being forced to pay extra out of pocket on top of their insurance. She urged her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join her in making birth control pills more affordable and more accessible for all women, rather than fighting to take away contraceptive coverage as some Republicans have proposed.

“I believe strongly that women should be able to get the comprehensive health care they need, when they need it – without being charged extra, without asking permission, and without politicians interfering,” said Murray. “I’m proud to be fighting for the Affordability is Access Act, which would help make sure women can have safe, convenient, over-the-counter access to birth control without being forced to pay extra on top of their insurance.”

Original Senate Cosponsors of the Affordability is Access Act: Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),  Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA),  Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR),  Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT),  Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN),  Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA),  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI),  Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Affordability is Access Act “would make sure when the FDA determines a birth control pill is appropriate for routine, daily use without a prescription, insurance companies have to continue to cover it. So that women can have safe, convenient, over-the-counter access without being forced to pay extra on top of their insurance,” Murray said.

See below for details on the Affordability is Access Act.

  • Ensures coverage of comprehensive preventive health services and expands coverage to include 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 without a prescription.
  • 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 agency Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. If the product meets such these standards, the FDA should approve the application without delay.
  • Ensures Retailers Provide Oral Contraception without a Prescription. The Act states that 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.

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