Democrats push for women to get free birth control promised by ACA

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Senate Democrats launched a new campaign on Tuesday to ensure women can get free birth control required by the Affordable Care Act, governing politics as imperative if the Supreme Court were to strike down the right to abortion, as expected after a draft decision leaked Monday night.

The senses. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chair the health and finance panels respectively, said they were opening an investigation into complaints that health insurers are refusing patients’ requests for contraception and forcing them to pay out of pocket.

“We hear from patients being asked to take ridiculous, crazy, unnecessary steps to get the birth control that’s right for them,” Murray said in an interview, noting access to birth control is a mainstay. key to reproductive health. “Those who want to take away your right to have an abortion are not going to stop there…And we must rise up and fight back with everything we have.”

Below federal lawinsurers must cover contraception without requiring co-payment, a policy that the National Women’s Law Center in November 2020 estimated applied to 64 million women, although some religious organizations and other employers have used exemptions to opt out. However, the NWLC and other advocates have criticized federal and state agencies for not aggressively enforcing the provisions, highlight examples of insured patients are denied coverage. The Biden administration in January sanctioned insurers After receiving “complaints and public reports of potential violations of the contraceptive coverage requirement.”

The question has taken on even greater importance with the publication of a leaked Supreme Court draft decision it would overturn the constitutional right to abortion, which emphasized the need for access to birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

“It’s all connected, isn’t it? People don’t really live single problem lives, and they live their reproductive health as a life journey,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, an OB/GYN who runs Power to Decide, a prevention-focused advocacy group. unplanned pregnancies. “It’s a continuum, and I think it’s very troubling…that there have been times when lawmakers have hinted that birth control is next.”

Murray, Wyden and Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) sent letters from Monday to OptumRx, CVS Care Mark and Express Scripts — which collectively help insurance companies oversee drug benefits for tens of millions of Americans — requiring companies to report information on their birth control coverage policies, percentage of patient claims denied and related data in the next two weeks. The letters were shared with The Washington Post.

Spokespersons for OptumRx and CVS Caremark said they are reviewing the senators’ request.

“UnitedHealth Group is committed to ensuring that the people we serve have ready access to a variety of high-value, affordable, FDA-approved contraceptives,” said Optum spokesperson Drew Krejci. “Consistent with the ACA, OptumRx offerings include free options in every category of contraceptives, and we will work directly with Senate offices to fulfill their request.”

Express Scripts spokespersons did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Murray said the investigation, which relies on lawmakers earlier warningswas intended to pressure federal officials to step up enforcement.

“We need very comprehensive guidance for insurers from HHS to impress upon these people that they cannot circumvent the law. They must provide access to birth control,” she said. “Period.”

Advocates cited birth control policies of at least a dozen insurers and drug benefit managers that they say appeared to flout the law. Power to Decide reviewed 48 denial letters and conducted a phone survey of secret shoppers, finding examples of rejected claims they said ignored doctors’ recommendations, didn’t offer enough information, and committed other violations. standards required by the ACA.

“When you look at these publicly available plan documents, when you look at what is sent to consumers, in the rejection letters, and when you look at these secret calls from customers to customer service hotlines, I think this shows what we’ve all found to be true in our lives – which is that it’s very difficult to navigate the health insurance system to get the coverage you need,” said Rachel Fey , who helped oversee Deciding Power Report, which was shared with The Post. Decision-making officials revealed that the group had received funding from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture contraceptives.

Push by Democrats to ensure access to free contraception was expected ahead of a Monday night Politico report that the Supreme Court privately voted to overturn Roe vs. Wadethe nearly 50-year-old court ruling that made abortion constitutional protected right, and to enforce the Mississippi abortion law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. confirmed the authenticity of the project on Tuesday, while cautioning that the judges’ positions and the opinion disclosed by Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. were not final. But lawmakers and advocates have drawn links between the fate of deer and a range of reproductive health care services, warning of a potential domino effect.

“The Republican Party has set the stage for a total erosion of Americans’ constitutional rights,” Wyden said in a statement. “They have made it clear that they will not stop at denying a woman the right to make decisions about her own body.”

Some conservatives have argued that the federal government is wrong to tell employers what health benefits they must cover, fighting for years against the ACA’s provisions on contraceptives. The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, has repeatedly called on Trump administration officials to restrict the law, calling it “mandate on abortion drugs.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and other Republicans also criticized a 1965 ruling that upheld married couples’ legal right to birth control, Griswold v. Connecticut. Alito’s leaked opinion also includes arguments that could ultimately lead to the decision being overturned, experts have argued.

deer was largely based on Griswold v. Connecticutwhich established a right of privacy to use contraception by bringing together different provisions and cases that in one form or another protected some sphere of privacy or freedom,” said Robert Tsai, a law professor at the ‘Boston University. wrote in Politico Magazine on Tuesday. “The same accusation made by Alito against deer can also be made on Griswold.

Democrats also predicted that the likely High Court ruling on Mississippi’s abortion law and other challenges to reproductive rights would emerge as a rallying cry ahead of November’s midterm elections, where the party is expected to lose control of one or both houses of Congress. Majority of Americans believe that most employers, except places of worship, should be required to provide health insurance that covers contraception for employees, even if it violates their religious beliefs, according to a PRRI survey 2021.

“I think women’s rights and women’s ability to make their own health care decisions about planning their own families will absolutely be on the ballot in November,” Murray said.

The Supreme Court’s leaked decision “should be galvanizing for the electorate,” added Debra Curtis, a former Democratic staffer who helped craft ACA legislation and is now McDermott’s vice president. + Consulting, a policy consulting firm. “It’s definitely a call. If women don’t hear that call, then times have definitely changed.

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