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Schneiderman Introduces Bill to Protect Free Contraception

By Nicole Levy | January 12, 2017 4:30pm
 New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's bill would protect New Yorkers' access to free contraception of all kinds, including Plan B.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's bill would protect New Yorkers' access to free contraception of all kinds, including Plan B.
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Flickr/Mike Mozart

NEW YORK CITY — A state bill announced by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Wednesday would protect New Yorkers' right to free contraception coverage.

The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act of 2017 would cover women in the event that the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is repealed.

Under the ACA, which was passed in 2010, health insurance plans purchased through state marketplaces must cover FDA-approved contraception methods, including emergency contraception. That coverage is in jeopardy as President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans push for the immediate repeal of President Barack Obama's signature legislation

"With the Affordable Care Act under attack in Washington, it’s all the more critical that New York act now to protect these rights,” Schneiderman said Wednesday in a statement introducing the bill that his office authored. "The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act will ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the birth control method they need to stay healthy and effectively plan for their future — no matter what happens in Congress.”

The GOP has also threatened to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides free birth control at five clinics in New York City.

In addition to maintaining ACA-mandated contraception coverage, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act of 2017 would also include these expansions:

• requiring state-governed health insurance plans to provide cost-free coverage for all FDA-approved methods of birth control for women
• prohibiting insurance companies from limiting or delaying contraceptive coverage in the interest of "medical management," which the federal law says insurers can use to determine the frequency, method, treatment, or setting for a preventative medication
• covering contraceptive methods for men, such as vasectomies
• allowing New Yorkers to collect a year's worth of contraception at one time

Current New York state law requires that health insurance policies covering prescription drugs must also cover contraception for women.

Schneiderman's update has support from such politicians as Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat representing the East Side of Manhattan, and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, a Democrat representing parts of Western Queens, as well as reproductive rights advocates like Andrea Miller, president of National Institute for Reproductive Health. 

“We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for prioritizing New Yorkers' access to the contraception they need, and for working to ensure that New York stands out as a beacon for access to reproductive health care," Miller said in a statement.

The bill was introduced Wednesday in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

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