The hashtag "CVSDeniesCare" began trending on Twitter on Thursday over reports that reimbursement changes for mail-order services could threaten women's access to birth control.
The phrase was trending nationally with more than 37,000 tweets after it was reported that CVS Caremark will be cutting reimbursement rates for customers who get birth control delivered straight to their doors.
Ilyse Hogue, the president of advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, sounded the alarm on Twitter, saying the move would make access to the prescriptions “more expensive and potentially out of reach for tens of thousands of women who for many reasons cannot get to the pharmacy every month.”
Thread: Learned this morning that CVS Caremark is cutting reimbursement rates for mail order birth control pills, making it more expensive and potentially out of reach for tens of thousands of women who for many reasons cannot get to the pharmacy every month. #CVSDeniesCare— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) August 15, 2019
Hogue noted that women need birth control delivery for a variety of reasons, such as "physical challenges getting to the pharmacy, living in very rural areas, simple privacy concerns, or something else."
"It really doesn't matter,” Hogue wrote. “What matters is that they should not be financially punished by CVS.”
It is unclear if the changes have already gone into effect.
Pill Club, one of the startups affected by the change, said in a statement to The Hill that they aim to prescribe and deliver birth control to patients who are “particularly vulnerable,” such as women of color, young women and low-income women without insurance.
“In fact, more than half of our patients said that without Pill Club, they would likely have to stop using birth control altogether," said Ali Hartley, vice president of legal compliance at Pill Club. “Now, CVS is choosing to deprive tens of thousands of these women of the right to make personal decisions about their own health care. We’re urging CVS to reverse course and be a leader in the fight to help women get the basic health care they need."
Pill Club wrote in an online plea that they believe CVS “simply doesn’t understand how devastating these cuts will be to Pill Club and the women we serve. We believe they are trying to save money without knowing all of the consequences.”
The company said it “will have no choice” but to stop serving people with CVS Caremark pharmacy benefits unless they can convince the company to reverse course.
“The reality is that we would be out of business if every pharmacy manager did what CVS is doing,” Pill Club wrote online. “And thousands of women would be without the birth control they need.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for CVS Caremark said Pill Club's claims are "extremely misleading," adding that there was "no impact" on the company's customers' access to contraceptives.
"We are committed to providing access to women’s health care and it is irresponsible for Pill Club to suggest otherwise in an effort to maximize their profits at the expense of our PBM clients," the spokesperson said.
"We remain committed to providing plan design options for our clients that includes coverage for contraceptive products, including birth control pills." the spokesperson added.
The Hill has reached out to Nurx, another company that prescribes birth control online and ships it to their customers, to see if it would be affected.
A spokesperson for Hers, another mail-order birth control service, said the company has not been impacted by the issue.
"At Hers, we believe women should have access to affordable birth control. More than 19 million women in the U.S. report living in a contraceptive desert without access to a clinic that provides birth control, and the decision by CVS/Caremark to put up yet another hurdle to care by increasing consumer cost is unacceptable," Hers said in a statement to The Hill. "The only path to improving the healthcare challenges in this country should be eliminating barriers such as cost, time and geography."
Thousands of social media users took to Twitter using the hashtag “CVSDeniesCare” to criticize the company for potentially limiting access to birth control, including People for Bernie, a verified account of activists and organizers supporting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin meets with Sanders, Jayapal amid spending stalemate America can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (I-Vt.).
Twitter user @minimandel1 used the hashtag to describe how she uses birth control to prevent hospitalization every month because of an ovarian cyst burst. Her clip was viewed more than 212,000 times.
~@cvspharmacy is a $77 billion company run by a male-dominated Board of Directors. They have decided that tens of thousands of women who obtain birth control through Pill Club and other providers must pay more for their contraception.#CVSDeniesCare 7/— April is in Colombia (@ReignOfApril) August 15, 2019
I work at CVS and I am tired of having to deny patient's RX benefits over and over again due to new hoops and restrictions that arise due to the dictatorship of insurance companies over the healthcare industry. #CVSDeniesCare— Jessica Ż (@Jess4Bernie) August 15, 2019
CVS has decided to deprive tens of thousands of women of the right to make personal health care decisions. A male-dominated Board of Directors has chosen profit over patients by denying women access to birth control.— Angela Belcamino (@AngelaBelcamino) August 15, 2019
Today, we hold CVS accountable by trending #CVSDeniesCare.
I have been a @cvspharmacy customer for my entire adult life.— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 15, 2019
It is HIGHLY disappointing that they are about to begin denying care and coverage to so many of their customers with disabilities who can't come in to the pharmacy.
They can fix this right away.#CVSDeniesCare
I depend on birth control delivered to my home. CVS Caremark is planning to take birth control away from women, especially those who may have disabilities and can't make it to a pharmacy. It is completely wrong. Please don’t deny care to women for profit@CVSHealth #CVSdeniesCare pic.twitter.com/PIi7caPuCn— Leah (@leahdii) August 15, 2019
Updated Aug. 16 at 3:00 p.m.