WI: Attorney General Says Insurance Must Cover Birth Control

Wisconsin’s Attorney General last week said that health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs must also cover birth control pills. Though Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager’s opinion is not binding, it does lend more authority to a long campaign by State Senator Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) and others to make contraceptive coverage required under state law, according to the Capital Times. In her opinion, Lautenschlager wrote that excluding contraceptives from employer-sponsored plans violates the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, which prohibits sex discrimination in employment, the Times reports. In addition, colleges and universities are prohibited from excluding prescription contraceptives in health plans because of statutes preventing discrimination based on sex or pregnancy, Lautenschlager found, the Times reports.

Based on Lautenschlager’s opinion, the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association announced that it would help employees who want to take legal action against their employers for failing to cover contraceptives in employee health plans, according to the Stevens Point Journal. “I think it is an implicit and explicit sexism issue,” said Lon Newman, public affairs chairman of Wisconsin Family Planning, according to the Journal.

In Wisconsin, only 22 percent of insurance plans cover all forms of contraception, and less than half cover birth control pills, according to the Lt. Gov.’s office. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin estimates that 625,000 women in the state are currently in need of contraceptive services and supplies.

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Capital Times 11/8/03; Lt. Gov. press release 11/7/03; Planned Parenthood 11/7/03; Stevens Point Journal 11/12/03

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