Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called on Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to rescind Trump’s interim final rules (IFRs) issued on October 13, 2017 enabling employers and universities to interfere with their employees’ and students’ access to preventive health care by allowing them to choose not to cover birth control for religious or moral reasons.
In their letter, the Senators highlighted the enormous economic benefit of requiring health plans to cover preventive services, including birth control for women, without out-of-pocket costs.
“This requirement has helped 62.4 million women have coverage for birth control. As a result, they have been able to make decisions about their reproductive health care that strengthen their economic standing and allow them to decide if and when to start families,” wrote the Senators. “These IFRs also allow employers and insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by requiring them to pay more for the health care they need compared to their male counterparts.”
Senators Murray and Cantwell also noted that repealing the birth control mandate goes against the original intentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created explicit provisions to guarantee women access to preventive services.
“Congress specifically included the Women’s Health Amendment in the ACA to ensure that the legislation would end the “punitive practices of insurances companies that charge women more and give [them] less in a benefit” by guaranteeing women access to preventive services,” the Senators wrote. “The IFRs fail to recognize this clear congressional intent to place medical experts’ recommendations over political ideology.”
In addition to Senators Murray and Cantwell, the letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeff A. Merkley (D-OR), and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA).
Full text of letter can be found here.