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Planned Parenthood, Women’s Health Advocates Submit Nearly 350,000 Comments in Support of ACA Birth Control Benefit

 WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards announced today’s submission of nearly 350,000 comments to the Department of Health and Human Services in support of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit generated by a coalition of women’s health and advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, CREDO and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This is part of Planned Parenthood’s ongoing work to ensure that the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives is covered as part of the law’s preventive benefit, without co-pays, and is available to every woman, no matter where she works. 

 

“The comments we submitted today came from women and men in all 50 states—and each one represents someone who understands, just like we do at Planned Parenthood, that when insurance companies cover women’s preventive care, including birth control, we all benefit,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The announcement was made as the public comment period on the Obama Administration’s revision to the birth control benefit ends, sending a resounding message to politicians and bosses who want to limit a woman’s ability to access the benefit. 

“Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including to control certain medical conditions and to plan our families -- and women, not their boss or politicians, should decide if they can use it. The idea that your employer could refuse to cover a prescription medication because they disagree with one of its uses—that’s unacceptable. As we at Planned Parenthood continue to fight to protect this important provision, you can count on one thing: we won’t let up. Access to birth control shouldn’t depend on where you work, how much money you make, the language you speak, or where you live,” said Richards.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of pill users cite health benefits as a contributing factor for using birth control including endometriosis, menstrual pain, and menstrual regulation. Seven in ten Americans (70 percent) believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services.

“I've been on birth control pills since I was 17 when I started developing ovarian cysts. I now have endometriosis. I wish people understood that for some people these pills are vital whether they are sexually active or not. Birth control pills may be preventing me from having surgery.  Even with insurance I was paying about $400 a year. I also have other health problems and doctors bills to deal with. When I was surprised by my pharmacist and told I was suddenly paying $0 I was thrilled! It's nice to get a break.” – Elaine, 29, Knoxville, TN

You can read more stories from supporters of the benefit here: http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/1213/6537/4425/4-8-13_BC_Stories.pdf

Planned Parenthood led the charge to ensure that birth control was included in the women’s preventive health benefit. In October 2010, the organization launched an effort to demonstrate widespread support for birth control and the need for access without cost barriers.  As part of the campaign, Planned Parenthood delivered more than 100,000 comments in support of birth control to the Department of Health and Human Services.  In July 2011, the Institute of Medicine recommended that birth control be included in the women’s preventive benefit with no co-pays, and the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines adopting this recommendation the next month. In January 2012, the Obama administration announced that they would not further expand the refusal provision to the birth control coverage benefit. 

Since then, some politicians have been trying to eliminate the benefit, denying birth control without a co-pay from millions of women. And Planned Parenthood has been leading the fight to protect it.

As part of that work, Planned Parenthood recently ran TV and online ads highlighting the positions of elected officials, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who signed a legal brief in support of private companies who want to block their employees’ access to birth control, and urging them to change their positions. The ads kicked off the “Birth Control: We All Benefit,” campaign to call attention to politicians and bosses who oppose access to birth control, spotlight the very real impact access to birth control has on women’s health, and engage the public in ensuring that the benefit is fully implemented. 

Follow Planned Parenthood’s “Birth Control: We All Benefit” campaign here: ppaction.org/weallbenefit

 

 

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Contacts

Planned Parenthood media office, 212.261.4433

Published: 04.08.13

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