Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) joined a group of colleagues led by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to announce 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.
In a call with leaders from NARAL Pro Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Murray highlighted that the Affordability is Access Act would allow women to have access to convenient, FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control pills without being forced to pay extra out of pocket on top of their insurance. She urged her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join her in making birth control pills more affordable and more accessible for all women, rather than fighting to take away contraceptive coverage as some Republicans have proposed.”
In addition to Feinstein and Murray, original Senate Cosponsors of the Affordability is Access Act: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
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.