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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 8, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 19
Patty Murray to HHS: Women must have access to contraceptives
Section One
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Patty Murray to HHS: Women must have access to contraceptives

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington's senior Senator Patty Murray authored a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell insisting that women have access to all FDA-approved methods of contraception.

Murray was joined by Washington's junior Senator, Maria Cantwell, and 37 other Senators from the Democratic caucus.

The May 5 letter urged Secretary Burwell to help states develop plans of action to ensure health plans comply with the Affordable Care Act, provide full access to all FDA-approved forms of contraception, and take appropriate enforcement action when necessary.

'In the 21st century, women should have access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare services, like birth control, that empower them to make their own healthcare decisions and provide economic security for their families,' the Senators wrote.

By helping women get contraceptive coverage and other essential health benefits without cost-sharing, the Affordable Care Act took a critical step toward this goal. Unfortunately, we write with serious concerns that some insurers are failing to uphold the standards set in the Affordable Care Act and as a result leaving women without the health care services they are entitled to under the law.'

Murray was responding to reports that insurers are failing to cover FDA-approved forms of contraception as they are required to do under the Affordable Care Act, and failing to provide women with accurate information about the range of essential health care services that are now available without cost-sharing.

The Affordable Care Act provided access to important preventive services, including birth control, at no cost to consumers.

In a May 5 press release, Senator Murray's office noted reports by the National Women's Law Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Northwest Health Law Advocates, and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington showing that some insurance plans are not in compliance with the law, and have been denying women coverage, charging them incorrectly, or providing inaccurate information.

Last week, Murray sent a letter to eight Washington state insurers calling out their failure to provide accurate information to consumers. She urged them to be proactive in offering information about contraceptive options, and to increase transparency.

Already two of those insurers, Coordinated Care and Bridgespan, have responded in writing, and committed to improving and addressing issues reported.

In addition to Murray and Cantwell, the following Senators signed the letter: Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

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