Healthcare

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 Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would ensure birth control that is available to women without a prescription is covered by insurance companies. 

{mosads}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-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Katie Hill (D-Calif.) 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week agreed with a tweet from Ocasio-Cortez saying birth control should be available over the counter. 
 
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.
Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ayanna Pressley Birth control Katie Hill Over-the-counter drug Patty Murray Ted Cruz
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