BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement Friday after the Trump Administration rolled back mandates on women’s health related to contraceptive coverage. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision that includes birth control as preventive health care, which health insurance plans must cover without any out-of-pocket costs. More than 62 million women have benefited from this provision that requires insurers to cover the full range of FDA-approved methods of contraception. Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and religiously affiliated employers and schools who cite religious objections to covering birth control are permitted to “opt-out” of including contraceptive coverage in the employees’ insurance plan. However, women may still get contraceptive coverage directly from their health insurance company.
“The Trump Administration’s shameful assault on women and women’s health care continues as the president once again puts politics ahead of public health,” said Senator Cardin. “Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age will use some form of contraception during their lifetime either for medical or family planning reasons. The Trump Administration’s move to immediately allow any employer to stop covering birth control in their health plans will have wide-ranging and negative repercussions. This change was unnecessary for anything other than political points, as the ACA already provided an opt-out remedy for employers with religious objections. This is an attack on women’s health, plain and simple.
“In Maryland, the Trump Administration’s interim final rule will cause confusion over the next few months until January 1, 2018 when the Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act takes effect. Like the District of Columbia and other states that wanted to protect women’s health, Maryland law protects access to contraceptive coverage. The state law prohibits co-payments for FDA approved contraceptives and bans prior-authorizations for long-acting contraceptives like IUDs, and allows women to receive six months of birth control pills at one time. It also requires insurance to cover over-the-counter emergency contraceptives, and prohibits out-of-pocket costs for men who have vasectomies. Health care is a human right, which is why the ACA included strong patient protections and a standard benefit package that would be available to all Americans regardless of where they live,” Senator Cardin added.
Senator Cardin joined a congressional amicus brief for Zubik v. Burwell, which is available here. In May 2016, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower courts. “As Members of Congress and strong supporters of efforts to increase access to affordable birth control, we believe that the legislative history of the ACA makes clear that the law’s contraceptive coverage benefit, and the current accommodation, advance Congress’s goal of promoting public health and equality for women.”