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Bill aims to increase contraceptive access

Rep. Leanne Krueger introduces legislation which would ensure that healthcare providers in the commonwealth couldn’t refuse to provide contraceptives upon request.

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker wants to make access to contraceptives easier by requiring health insurers to cover their cost.

Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, has introduced House Bill 2454, a 15-page piece of legislation that requires insurers to cover contraception in federal changes that Krueger says have left 2.5 million contraceptive users in Pennsylvania without equitable and affordable access to contraception. House Bill 2454 has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.

Krueger cites 2017 and 2018 rules approved by the federal government allowing private employers and educational institutions that do not agree with the use of contraception to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for insurers to cover some or all of the cost of contraceptives as part of a health plan.

“During the summer of 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that allows employers to be exempt from Affordable Care Act mandates to provide birth control to employees if they object due to religious or moral values,” Krueger wrote in her legislative memorandum. “The ruling that summer endangers the health and economic security of at least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania who depend on this coverage for access to affordable, effective contraceptives.”

Krueger’s legislation says the state has a compelling interest in ensuring Pennsylvania residents have access to contraception through fair insurance coverage, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and CDC guidance showing pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk of severe illness and intensive care. She proposes not allowing health insurers to require prior authorization, utilization review or step-therapy requirements for contraceptives, not allowing health insurers to require a co-pay, co-insurance, deductible or other cost-sharing for contraceptives and not to allow insurers to require a prescription for over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, devices or other products.

“Contraception is health care, and employers should not be allowed to decide what medical care a woman has the right to receive. Access to health care is inextricably linked to economic mobility, and basic preventative care like birth control should not be a luxury that is only available to some,” Krueger wrote. “As legislators, we should be reducing barriers to health care, not creating more.”

In February, Maine legislators introduced legislation that would expand on provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover at least one contraceptive product in each category of contraception at no out-of-pocket expense. The bill would require coverage of all prescription contraceptive medications approved by the FDA at no out-of-pocket cost to patients.

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