Hirono, others reintroduce Affordability is Access Act to expand access to birth control
U.S. senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) reintroduced the Affordability is Access Act on Thursday.
It’s bicameral legislation that would ensure that once the Food and Drug Administration approves an over-the-counter birth control option, insurers must fully cover over-the-counter birth control without any out-of-pocket costs.
Companion legislation was also introduced in the House by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Ami Bera (D-CA).
“At a time when Republicans across the country are fighting to ban abortion nationwide—bans that disproportionately harm people of color, people with low incomes, and LGBTQ people—it is critical that we ensure every person who needs it can access and afford contraception,” said Sen. Hirono.
The bill introduction comes after two FDA Advisory Committees’ unanimous vote last week recommending that FDA move forward to approve the first-ever application for over-the-counter birth control. Recent polling has found that nearly 8 in 10 voters have a favorable view of birth control pills and more than 7 in 10 support making the pill available over-the-counter.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all private health insurance plans are required to fully cover—without copays or out-of-pocket costs—all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, granted, or cleared methods of contraception.
The Affordability is Access Act would ensure that this also applies to over-the-counter birth control. The bill would also maintain the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs and make them available over the counter without a prescription, and ensure retailers provide contraception without a prescription. The legislation states that any retailer that stocks contraception that the FDA has approved, granted, or cleared without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraception.