BOSTON, NOV. 20 - Representative Driscoll joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House to pass legislation to ensure that Massachusetts women have access to no-copay contraception. This action follows the Trump Administration’s decision to weaken critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and preventive care.
This compromise bill requires insurers to cover contraceptives and contraceptive services in Massachusetts, including education, counseling and follow-up treatment, without any out-of-pocket cost to the patient. In an effort to contain healthcare costs, the bill only requires insurers to cover one version of a drug or device free of charge, if a therapeutic equivalent (generic drug) is available, unless otherwise directed by a patient’s doctor.
“All women deserve the right to affordable, reliable and safe contraceptive care,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “This is not only a health issue, but one of equity as well. Being able to make decisions about contraception is one of the most influential factors in whether women complete their education and achieve their career goals. I’m proud that Massachusetts did the right thing in the face of shameful decisions on the federal level.”
“Women must have the right, regardless of their levels of income, to be able to access contraceptive services,” said State Representative Driscoll. “ Given the current climate in D.C., this action at the state level has never been more important. I applaud the collaborative efforts of the House, the Senate, the Governor’s office and the Massachusetts health insurance industry for that matter, to see that this became law. I will continue to be a collaborative partner on related issues and an advocate for the sisters, daughters, and mothers of our Commonwealth.”
In its October 2017 report, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) notes that “increasing the dispensing period of contraceptives to a year facilitates access and may lead to a more consistent contraceptive use.” Understanding that consistency is critical to effective use of contraceptives, this bill allows patients to pick up a twelve-month supply of medicine subsequent to an initial three-month prescription.
The legislation also mandates no-copay coverage for emergency contraception with a prescription.
Access to preventive healthcare and affordable contraception continues to have a significant impact on the economic stability of women. Contraceptives make up about 30 to 44 percent of out-of-pocket healthcare spending for women. Since 1960, it is estimated that about one-third of the wage gains made by women are the result of access to birth control.