November 9, 2017

Free birth control clears Mass. House

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A bill would allow women to pick up a year's supply of birth control after an initial three-month prescription, and require coverage of emergency contraception at pharmacies without a copayment or a new prescription.

The Massachusetts House passed a bill guaranteeing free access to birth control for women in the Bay State by a wide margin Tuesday.

Approved and sent to the Senate on a 138 to 16 vote, the bill (H 4009) would ensure copay-less access to oral contraception for women in Massachusetts, allow women to pick up a 12-month supply of birth control after an initial three-month prescription, and mandate coverage of emergency contraception at pharmacies without a copayment or a new prescription.

"A women's right to contraceptive coverage should be absolute and unquestioned," Rep. Aaron Michlewitz said on the House floor.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House's action came as a result of "shameful decisions" from the Trump administration to weaken provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to women's health.

The Trump administration announced new rules last month it said would "provide conscience protections" to Americans with religious or moral objections to paying for health insurance covering contraception.

Attorney General Maura Healey, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and other organizations cheered the House's passage of the bill.

A Center for Health Information and Analysis report released last week found the bill's mandates will cost the health care system between $1.9 million and $5.7 million annually over the next five years, adding between 84 cents and $2.40 to the annual premium for a Massachusetts subscriber.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which has not signaled when it plans to take up the bill

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