Reproductive Rights

New York Attorney General Moves to Expand Access to Contraceptives

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act of 2015 last week to enhance the availability of contraception for New Yorkers.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The bill codifies the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New York state law while strengthening and expanding many of its provisions. Like the ACA, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act would require health insurance companies in New York to cover a full range of contraception without copays or other additional costs. In addition, the New York bill would expand coverage to include vasectomies and would create a system to allow coverage for all emergency contraception, even if it is available over-the-counter. Further, the New York bill would allow individuals to obtain up to twelve months of contraception at one time and would expand contraceptive choices.

Currently, under the ACA, insurance companies must cover at least one version of all 18 federally approved birth control methods, but the New York bill would require insurance companies in New York to end so-called “medical management” techniques that limit contraceptive choices, and make available, without copays, multiple versions of federally-approved birth control methods.

“New Yorkers should not be penalized by their insurance companies for using the birth control method that they and their medical provider agree is most appropriate for them,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Ensuring comprehensive, cost-free access to birth control is critical to fulfilling the goals of the Affordable Care Act and to upholding every woman’s right to contraception. The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act will guarantee these rights and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the birth control method that will help them stay healthy and effectively plan for their future.”

Attorney General Schneiderman presented the bill to the New York state legislature after receiving reports that some health plans in New York had been charging co-pays or denying full coverage of certain contraceptive methods. These reports are consistent with a study released last month by the National Women’s Law Center finding several violations of the ACA contraceptive coverage benefit – including failure to cover all FDA-approved methods and imposition of cost-sharing – in multiple states.

Just last week, the Obama Administration issued guidance on contraceptive coverage under the ACA, clarifying that insurers are obligated to cover at least one form of all FDA approved contraceptives as well as patient education and counseling on contraceptive methods.

Media Resources: New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Press Release 5/11/15; NARAL Pro-Choice New York; Feminist Newswire 5/12/15; National Women’s Law Center, April 2015; Kaiser Family Foundation 4/16/15

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