Affordable Care Act

Insurance coverage for contraception is essential for all women. As physicians, we have seen firsthand how it can change women’s lives–and how patients suffer when they don’t have access to affordable birth control.

Access to and regular use of contraception allows women to stay healthier by planning their pregnancies. Several contraceptives also have non-contraceptive health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of certain cancers and treating debilitating menstrual problems.

Physicians for Reproductive Health supported the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine to include contraception in the preventive health benefits for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Insurers are now required to cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives, well-woman visits, and other basic preventive health care.

Federal rules are now in effect that require private insurance plans to cover the full cost of preventive health services for women, including contraceptives, without co-pays or any other extra charges. Some institutions–both faith-based and private, secular businesses–are objecting to new federal rules requiring their employees’ health insurance policies to cover contraception. Allowing employers to refuse to offer this benefit is harmful to women and their families, and we believe all women deserve affordable birth control.

Learn how we are helping women get the care and insurance coverage they need.

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Medical Groups Issue Amicus Brief in Support of Contraception Access

“Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals.”

New York, NY— The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Nurses Association, along with other medical groups, have filed an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the accommodation offered to religiously affiliated organizations by the Affordable Care Act violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The amicus brief explains that contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families.

Background: In implementing the contraceptive benefit, the Obama Administration accommodated certain employers with religious objections to birth control by allowing them to opt out of covering it for their employees, provided that they fill out a form notifying their insurer, or the government, of the employer’s objection. If the employer provides such notice, the insurer would then provide coverage to the employee at no cost to the employer. Despite this, several employers have sued the Administration, alleging that the accommodation violates RFRA. Now, the Supreme Court will review seven of these challenges as part of Zubik v. Burwell.

Excerpt of amicus brief: The contraception coverage requirement recognizes that women of childbearing age have unique health needs and that contraception counseling and services are essential components of women’s preventive health care. Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals based on the best interests of the patient. This is best accomplished when contraceptive coverage is provided within the same overall framework as a woman’s other health care services in consultation with a woman’s chosen provider. The accommodation accomplishes this, while at the same time respecting an employer’s sincerely held religious objections to contraception….

Under the accommodation, prescription contraceptives are covered seamlessly and automatically as part of a woman’s health insurance package. If access to appropriate, cost-free contraception is removed from women’s routine health care services or is made more difficult to obtain, the likely result is that many women will simply not use contraception or will use an imperfect form of contraception inconsistently or improperly, with a concomitant increase in unintended pregnancies with all their consequences.  

The amicus brief can be read and downloaded here: http://bit.ly/1Q3nBux

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 23.

 PHYSICIANS AND NURSES AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT 

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenges to ACA Contraception Coverage

Dr. Nancy StanwoodThe Affordable Care Act has proven critical in improving women’s health, and in particular the provision that requires insurance companies cover birth control without a copay. Responding to the news that the Supreme Court of the United States would grant the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, in which plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from covering contraception for employees as mandated, our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood responded:

“The Affordable Care Act did the right thing for public health and women’s health by ensuring that everyone who needs birth control can get the method that is right for them, without co-pays. If the plaintiffs succeed in their case, countless people will lose this benefit and face costly barriers to accessing affordable contraception….One person’s beliefs should not dictate the health care that another receives.”

Read her entire statement here

Doctors React to Supreme Court Accepting Challenge to Contraceptive Coverage

Concerned that ruling in favor of plaintiffs could deal devastating blow to women’s access to contraception

New York, NY— Today the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it would grant all seven of the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, in which plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from covering contraception for employees as mandated.

In response, Physicians for Reproductive Health board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH said:

“The Affordable Care Act did the right thing for public health and women’s health by ensuring that everyone who needs birth control can get the method that is right for them, without co-pays. If the plaintiffs succeed in their case, countless people will lose this benefit and face costly barriers to accessing affordable contraception. Birth control is a critical component of preventive care.

“And affordability is key to ensuring that people are able to use it and have control over their reproductive lives. We know that when co-pays are removed, women are able to choose a method based on their medical needs, and not on cost alone. Removing co-pays for all methods assures that patients can choose whatever method they need, including long-acting reversible methods, such as the IUD or the implant, that are highly effective but often come with high upfront costs.

“The plaintiffs are seeking to privilege their religious beliefs over the beliefs and health of others. In a modern democracy, this is simply unacceptable. One person’s beliefs should not dictate the health care that another receives. We hope the court uses good sense and finds in favor of good health and good medicine for all.”  

PHYSICIANS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT

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Victory for Affordable Care and Women’s Health!

Dr. Nancy StanwoodPhysicians is thrilled at the news of the King v. Burwell Supreme Court ruling. The Court has ruled 6-3 that the Affordable Care Act may continue to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help people buy health insurance and access the health care they need.

Our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood said:

Access to medical care is fundamental to the well-being of the patients we physicians care for every day….We know firsthand that women often neglect their health needs to pay for other life essentials such as food and housing. This ruling ensures that no woman will need to choose between her family’s financial well-being and her own health. This is a victory for public health and puts families first.”

Read her entire statement here