House Democrats push for 12-month contraception prescriptions

Fifty-three House Democrats, led by Jackie Speier (D-Calif) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore), are urging HHS to “ensure that the promise of the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (P.L. 111-148)] ACA’s birth control coverage requirement is met” by requiring health insurers to cover a one-year supply of contraception without cost sharing. The representatives issued a letter to HHS, citing studies demonstrating that the provision of one-year supplies of contraception, as opposed to more limited supplies, decreases the odds of unintended pregnancies. “Being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition” Speier commented, and this “simple change” would further the ACA’s goal of preventive care.

The representatives cited to a University of California San Francisco study that they described as concluding that the odds of pregnancy in women who received a year’s supply of oral contraceptives was 30 percent lower than the odds in women who received one- or three-month supplies. They also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Office of Population Affairs (OPM) have recommended that providers provide or prescribe multiple cycles of birth control—ideally, a full year’s worth—at one time.

The Democrats noted that dispensing birth control in more limited supplies creates gaps in use of birth control and can be more expensive. They suggested that the limited dispensing could have a disproportionate effect on low- and middle-income women, who may work unpredictable hours or have limited access to transportation. Noting that her home state of Oregon recently passed similar legislation, Bonamici encouraged HHS to adopt the suggestion. “Birth control has helped give women the freedom to decide when they want to start a family, and providing a 12-month supply ensures that women can plan long-term rather than for a few months at a time.”