Biden Administration Proposes New Rules to Expand Access to Birth Control Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Departments of Labor and the Treasury (Departments) proposed a rule to strengthen access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Under the ACA, most plans are required to offer coverage of birth control with no out-of-pocket cost.  To date, millions of women have benefited from this coverage.  Monday’s rule proposes to expand and strengthen access to this coverage so that all women who need or want birth control are able to obtain it.

The ACA and its implementing regulations guarantee coverage of women’s preventive services, including birth control and contraceptive counseling, at no cost for women who are enrolled in group health plans or individual health insurance coverage.

“Now more than ever, access to and coverage of birth control is critical as the Biden-Harris Administration works to help ensure women everywhere can get the contraception they need, when they need it, and – thanks to the ACA – with no out-of-pocket cost,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.  “Today’s proposed rule works to ensure that the tens of millions of women across the country who have and will benefit from the ACA will be protected. It says to women across the country, we have your back.”

Under current rules finalized during the Trump administration in 2018, employers can completely remove themselves from contraceptive coverage while still allowing covered women to get access to birth control, but only if they sign the optional accommodation.

The new rules released Monday would create a workaround that allows women to get access to birth control even if their objecting employer doesn’t sign the optional accommodation.

“We know that access to affordable health care is vital. HHS, along with the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, continues to protect and promote access to the reproductive health care services people need, including contraception” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “If this rule is finalized, individuals who have health plans that would otherwise be subject to the ACA preventive services requirements but have not covered contraceptive services because of a moral or religious objection, would now have access.”

 

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