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 PressleyJustice Democrats official denies that progressives struggle with electability The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayRetirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants Overnight Health Care: Judge temporarily blocks Alabama near-total abortion ban | Sanders dismisses calls for 'Medicare for All' funding plan | Dems urge Trump not to back down on vaping flavor ban 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-CortezSanders 'very concerned about what appears to be a coup' in Bolivia Trump celebrates resignation of Bolivia's president Sanders touts big crowds in Iowa rallies with Ocasio-Cortez MORE (D-N.Y.) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Human Rights Campaign head: Katie Hill's sexuality was a factor in coverage of allegations Poll: 6 percent of voters say revenge porn is more damaging to men 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.