Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash,) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore,), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and 46 Senate colleagues in sending a letter urging the Biden Administration to clarify that all health insurance plans must fully cover the cost of birth control pills without a prescription, including Opill—the first-ever FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control pill—which will become available in early 2024. This letter follows Senator Cortez Masto’s leadership on her Affordability is Access Act, legislation she introduced with Senators Murray and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) that would prevent health plans from charging any copays or out-of-pocket costs for over the counter birth control purchased without a prescription.
“We urge you to improve health insurance coverage, both public and private, of the full range of FDA-approved, granted, or cleared contraceptive products—including birth control that is available over-the-counter (OTC) without requiring a prescription for coverage,” the senators wrote today in their letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Department of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and the Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su. “Over 19 million women live in counties with limited access to health care providers that offer comprehensive contraceptive services, and about one-third of women who have received prescription contraceptives have reported barriers to access. Expanding access to affordable coverage for eligible, uninsured populations would improve the quality of contraceptive care that patients receive.”
“The availability of safe and effective OTC birth control products has enormous potential to help people overcome significant barriers to consistent contraceptive use, including the many logistical and financial challenges to obtaining a prescription. The FDA’s approval of Opill is a milestone; however, for an OTC birth control pill to meet its potential and be truly accessible, federal departments must ensure that it is covered without cost-sharing and without the need for a prescription as a condition of coverage,” the senators continued.
“To expand access to affordable contraception, we urge the tri-departments to issue new guidance that reflects current HRSA guidelines and clarifies that federally and state-regulated private health plans must cover OTC contraceptive products without cost-sharing, including when purchased without a prescription… Given the increased need for access to contraception in the wake of the Dobbs decision, this issue is incredibly timely and important,” the senators wrote.
A copy of the senators’ letter can be found HERE.
Senator Cortez Masto has been fierce advocate for women’s reproductive rights. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Senator Cortez Masto introduced the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to ensure legal protections for women traveling across state lines to receive reproductive care. She is cosponsoring legislation to codify the right to contraception, has urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect the data privacy of women seeking reproductive care. She took on one of the nation’s biggest pharmaceutical wholesalers to ensure Nevadans can access the abortion pill in retail pharmacies, including Walgreens.