State Representative Mike Connolly joined with House and Senate colleagues yesterday in the State House Library for a gubernatorial signing ceremony for H.4009, An Act relative to advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security in our state, also known as the ACCESS Bill. This legislation, based on a pair of bills co-sponsored by Rep. Connolly and others (H.536 and S.499), will ensure that the 1.4 million women in Massachusetts who currently use some form of birth control can access it when they need it.
“Reproductive freedom is a human right, and that is what’s at stake today,” Rep. Connolly said, echoing testimony he made before the Joint Committee on Financial Services in October. “By passing the ACCESS bill, we are resisting the Trump Administration’s attempts to turn back the clock on basic health care and reproductive justice.”
On October 6, 2017, President Trump’s administration issued a regulation that allows employers to deny birth control coverage to employees. The ACCESS bill (summarized bellow) will protect residents from this denial of coverage while expanding access to contraception and strengthening Massachusetts’ position as a leader on women’s health.
- Guarantees coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives and related appointments and counseling with no copay. Includes all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and products available over-the-counter, voluntary sterilization procedures, and all FDA-approved emergency contraception methods.Includes provisions that cover patient education and counseling related to contraception and coverage for follow-up services to related to contraceptive drugs, devises, products, and procedures.
- Allows doctors to determine which birth control method is medically advisable for a patient, requiring insurance plans to respect the decisions made by health care providers and patients.
- Makes available a 12 month supply of prescription contraceptive drugs after a 3-month trial basis. For FDA-approved oral contraceptives without a therapeutic equivalent, coverage is required when deemed medically necessary by a provider, in which case it will be provided without cost-sharing.
- Applies to accident and sickness policies, GIC, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and HMO policies. It also seeks to apply to Medicaid managed care plans as well as plans grandfathered as exempt from the essential health benefit requirements of the ACA.
- Includes contraceptive us for other purposes (decreasing risk of ovarian cancer, eliminating symptoms of menopause, necessary to preserve life or health).
Rep. Connolly would like to recognize the leadership of his colleagues and the advocates on this issue, including Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, Representative John Scibak, Senator Harriette Chandler, and the Coalition for Choice: Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Mass. Commission on the Status of Women, MassEquality, Mass Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, National Association of Social Workers, Mass Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, and the Mass Family Planning Association.