Senate Dems rebuke GOP’s over-the-counter birth control bill

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Democratic senators are launching a push to protect ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, which they say would be in jeopardy if the upper chamber’s Republicans win approval for their own birth control bill.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate approves Zika funds MORE (D-Wash.) on Tuesday unveiled a bill to keep in place the rule that insurance companies must cover contraception, even if certain methods, like birth control pills, become available without a prescription.

The bill is a direct rebuke to Senate Republicans who are trying to champion the issue of over-the-counter birth control. That GOP bill has drawn fire from reproductive health groups like Planned Parenthood Action Fund, however, that warn the legislation would force women to again pay out of pocket for their birth control.

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“If something is too expensive, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to get. It might as well be on the moon,” Murray told reporters Tuesday.

Unlike the Republican bill, Murray’s bill would not provide incentives for insurance companies to offer birth control available over the counter.

“We have to be very careful not to put political pressure on the FDA without going through the regular process,” Murray said.

“I do think at some point, birth control will be offered over the counter, and when that happens, our bill makes sure insurance companies still cover it,” she said.

Murray slammed the GOP version of the bill, led by freshman Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), which she said was like offering someone a single shoe: “You really need the pair.”

She said her bill has 25 co-sponsors, including Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Democrats and reproductive health groups have condemned the Republican bill, arguing that it would undermine other parts of ObamaCare intended to make contraception available.

“You can make birth control available over the counter in every pharmacy in America, but if it still costs $600 a year, it will be out of reach for many women,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told reporters.