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Senators Reid, Clinton Warn of Barriers to Contraception

Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have raised concerns that pooled insurance coverage, part of a bill currently before the Senate, would override state insurance requirements, including required contraceptive coverage. The proposed bill (S. 1955) would allow small businesses to pool together across state lines to offer health insurance plans, which would not have to comply with the specific coverage requirements of the states in which they operate. The combination of small businesses is intended to increase their bargaining power with insurance companies and allow them to negotiate better rates.

Senator Reid told the Washington Times that “If Bush Republicans have their way, millions of women will have to make a choice between going without effective prescription contraception and struggling to pay for it out-of-pocket, something many will be unable to do.” Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has introduced an amendment that attempts to address the issue by requiring coverage for any condition that is required by at least 26 states; Kaiser reports that variations in requirements for contraception make it uncertain whether contraceptive coverage meets this requirement.

Sources:

Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005 (S. 1955); Kaiser Network 5/11/06; Washington Times 5/11/06