Biden officials press insurers on free contraception coverage
Top Biden administration officials met with health insurance industry executives Monday to ensure that their plan members have access to contraceptive services at no cost.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with major health insurance groups and plan sponsors to remind them of the legal obligation under ObamaCare to provide contraceptive coverage for free.
The meeting comes just days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and left states to decide whether abortion is legal. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1965 case protecting access to contraceptives.
In all 50 states, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees coverage of women’s preventive services, including free birth control and contraceptive counseling, for individuals and covered dependents.
In 2020, the law provided 58 million women access to preventive services without cost sharing.
In a statement, Walsh, Becerra and and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said they are concerned about complaints that some plans are not following the law and denying coverage in certain instances.
“The departments expect plans and issuers to immediately take steps to ensure that they are complying, and they may take enforcement or other corrective actions as appropriate,” they said.
The ACA requires that insurers cover at least one form of contraception for each method that’s been cleared or approved by the Food and Drug Administration without cost sharing.
“There have been troubling and persistent reports of noncompliance with these requirements,” Becerra, Yellen and Walsh wrote in a letter to payers ahead of Monday’s meeting.
“It is more important than ever to ensure access to contraceptive coverage without cost sharing, as afforded by the ACA,” they wrote.
In May, the House Oversight and Reform Committee similarly pressed major health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers on their coverage of contraceptives. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) sent letters to nine companies requesting information on their birth control coverage.
Advocates are concerned Republican legislatures emboldened by the decision overturning Roe could try to outlaw some emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and intrauterine devices, even though they are covered by the law’s mandate.
—Updated at 8 p.m.