Home Lawmakers push Biden Administration for expansion of OTC birth control access
Health, Politics, US & World

Lawmakers push Biden Administration for expansion of OTC birth control access

Rebecca Barnabi
(© Monet – stock.adobe.com)

In July 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved “Opill,” the first over-the-counter birth control pill, which will become available in early 2024.

President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order in June 2023 for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury to issue updated guidance on contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As part of the guidance, members urged the Secretaries to clarify that private health plans regulated by state and federal governments must cover OTC contraception at no cost, even when purchased without a prescription.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su, U.S. Reps. Judy Chu of California and Lois Frankel of Florida lead 123 colleagues, including Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, in encouraging the Biden Administration to continue taking steps toward expanding access to contraceptive care.

“Over 19 million women live in counties with limited access to health care providers that offer comprehensive contraceptive services, and about one-third of women who have received prescription contraceptives have reported barriers to access. Expanding access to affordable coverage for eligible, uninsured populations would improve the quality of contraceptive care that patients receive,” the letter states. “The availability of safe and effective OTC birth control products has enormous potential to help people overcome significant barriers to consistent contraceptive use, including the many logistical and financial challenges to obtaining a prescription. The FDA’s approval of Opill is a milestone; however, for an OTC birth control pill to meet its potential and be truly accessible, federal departments must ensure that it is covered without cost-sharing and without the need for a prescription as a condition of coverage.”

The lawmakers’ letter continues to express appreciation to the administration’s “ongoing commitment to these goals for improving coverage of and access to the full range of contraceptives, including OTC contraception, and look forward to continuing to work together to achieve them. Given the increased need for access to contraception in the wake of the Dobbs decision, this issue is incredibly timely and important.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.