Baldwin Helps Launch New Legislation to Expand Access to Affordable Over-the-Counter Birth Control

New legislation would build on contraceptive coverage access in Affordable Care Act, make sure insurance companies cover over-the-counter daily birth control pills without a prescription

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has joined the committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), in launching the Affordability is Access Act, a new bill that would build on contraception coverage access in the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that when the FDA approves birth control pills for over the counter use, they will be covered without cost sharing and without the need for a prescription. The legislation would help expand women’s access to affordable birth control while maintaining the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and quality of drugs.

“Millions of women across the country have already benefited from the cost saving measures included in the Affordable Care Act, and the Affordability is Access Act builds on that progress by ensuring birth control pills will continue to be covered by insurance companies once the FDA approves their use over-the-counter,” said Senator Baldwin. “Not only is this about making a basic tenant of women’s health care more accessible, it’s about making it more affordable. I’m proud to support this effort that expands the comprehensive health care women need, when they need it – without extra costs or political interference.”

Original Senate Cosponsors of the Affordability is Access Act: Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),  Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA),  Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR),  Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT),  Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN),  Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA),  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI),  Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Affordability is Access Act is supported by: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Ibis Reproductive Health, National Abortion Federation, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Population Connection Action Fund

See below for details on the Affordability Is Access Act (AAA):

  • Ensures coverage of comprehensive preventive health services and expands coverage to include full access to oral contraception for routine, daily over-the-counter use for all women. All private health insurance plans are now required to cover all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods of contraception. The Act would ensure coverage of all oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription.
  • Maintains the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety, quality, and efficacy of drugs and make them available over-the-counter without a prescription. It is imperative that the entities that research and develop oral contraceptives, and whose medical and scientific experts have developed clinical and other evidence that birth control pills are safe and effective for women when sold without a prescription, apply to the FDA for review and approval for sale without a prescription. Upon the receipt of such an application, the FDA must determine whether the contraceptive product meets the rigorous safety, efficacy, and quality standards for over-the-counter use, as established by the agency Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. If the product meets such these standards, the FDA should approve the application without delay.
  • Ensures Retailers Provide Oral Contraception without a Prescription. The Act states that any retailer that stocks oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraception.