Democrats roll out proposal requiring insurance to cover OTC birth control

Democrats roll out proposal requiring insurance to cover OTC birth control
© Stefani Reynolds

House and Senate Democrats rolled out a proposal Thursday that would require insurance companies to cover over-the-counter birth control at no cost to patients.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.), would ensure birth control that is available to women without a prescription is covered by insurance companies. 

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Plan B, commonly referred to as the morning after pill, is currently the only method of oral contraception available over the counter, without a prescription, which means it is often not covered by insurance. 

"At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, it is more critical than ever that we take bold steps to reaffirm reproductive rights for all Americans," Pressley said in a statement. 

This bill would not make birth control available over the counter. Only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to do so. It only requires that insurance companies pay for over-the-counter birth control if it is ever approved by the FDA.

For this to happen, a drug manufacturer would have to petition the FDA to approve their product for sale over the counter. No drug makers have done this, even though birth control is available over the counter in other countries. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez reveals new policies for campaign aides with children Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam MORE (D-N.Y.) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillLawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control MORE (D-Calif.) 

 
Pressley then encouraged Cruz to sign on to her bill, but he didn't respond. 
 
Murray encouraged Republicans to co-sponsor the measure.
 
"I hope Republicans who have spoken about increasing access to over-the-counter birth control will support this bill and acknowledge the reality that you simply can’t have access without affordability," she said in a statement. 
 
The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies cover FDA-approved methods of contraception with no cost-sharing, but only for methods that require prescriptions.