Today, rather than taking a vote on SB1277 Contraceptive Equity, members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee referred the bill to the Health Insurance Reform Commission, thus delaying substantive reform for the year.
Virginia law currently allows insurers that offer prescription drug coverage to deny coverage for birth control, denying women what is considered by the Institute of Medicine to be an essential health benefit. SB1277 would have simply built on existing law to ensure that all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved birth control methods were covered by health benefit plans and health insurance policies offered in the Commonwealth.
“Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia is deeply disappointed by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee’s inaction on SB1277, Contraceptive Equity. Birth control is a basic health care need for Virginia women,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid. “SB1277 is a commonsense measure that would provide women with equal access to health care under Virginia law.”
Twenty-eight states, including West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, require insurers that cover prescription drugs to provide coverage for the full range of FDA-approved birth control drugs and devices. Virginia should be leading the movement to ensure women’s access to birth control, not lagging behind. For many women, access to birth control is a significant factor in ensuring women’s economic well-being. Women who have consistent, affordable access to birth control are more likely to attain higher levels of education, have increased stability in their professional lives, and earn higher wages.
“There are an estimated 1.5 million women in Virginia, and more than 99% of women of reproductive age use some form of birth control at some point in their lives. Every woman has unique health care needs. A Virginia woman should be able to access and use the FDA-approved birth control method that she and her health care provider determine is right for her,” said Stewart-Reid.
Policymakers should work to remove barriers to safe, FDA-approved and widely used birth control to ensure that Virginia women and families are able to access and use the birth control method that is best for them.