LD 1237 requires insurance companies to cover up to 12 months of birth control
Portland, MAINE — Following a 25-10 vote in the Senate and unanimous passage in the House, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Maine Action Fund released the following statement on LD 1237, a bill to eliminate medically-unnecessary restrictions on insurance coverage of contraception:
“Birth control is basic health care for women—99% of women will use some method of birth control in their lifetime. By eliminating arbitrary restrictions on insurance coverage of birth control, LD 1237 will ensure more Maine women are able to effectively use the birth control method that works best for them.
“Affordable and easy access for birth control is essential for women to achieve economic stability. When women can plan their families, they are able to finish school, advance their careers, and pursue their life goals,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
In an editorial in support of the bill, the Portland Press Herald noted that inconsistent use of birth control accounts for 41 percent of unintended pregnancies, and a recent study found that one in four women has missed a birth control pill because she was unable to get a new pack in time.
Consistent use of birth control is the most effective method of preventing pregnancy, but birth control pills must be taken every day–even one missed pill can leave a woman susceptible to an unintended pregnancy.
“As a struggling single mother working a full-time job, it would have been much more convenient for me to obtain 12 months’ worth of birth control at a time,” said Amy Mihill of Portland, a supporter of the bill. “Transportation was an issue for me as I did not have my driver’s license or an automobile; I either walked or depended on someone to give me a ride to pick up prescriptions. Living in Portland, it was easier for me to access the pharmacy. However, if I lived in a more rural area, it would have been challenging for me to visit the pharmacy quarterly, and nearly impossible to do so monthly.”
Both the CDC and the US Office of Population Affairs recommend providing or prescribing multiple cycles, ideally a full year’s supply, of birth control to reduce barriers to care and facilitate consistent use of contraception.
Research has found that providing 12 months of birth control leads to a 30% reduction in unintended pregnancies and a 46% reduction in abortion.
California, Hawaii, Oregon, and the District of Columbia already allow up to 12 months of birth control at a time and Virginia and South Carolina have passed similar measures this year.
LD 1237, sponsored by Representative Jay McCreight of Harpswell, will face final votes in the House before advancing to the governor’s desk.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides a broad range of preventive health care services in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In Maine, PPNNE serves approximately 10,000 patients a year at health centers in Biddeford, Portland, Sanford, and Topsham. More than ninety percent of PPNNE’s services are preventive and include cancer screenings, birth control, prevention, disease testing and treatment, breast health services, pap tests, annual exams and hormone therapy for transgender patients. PPNNE also offers abortion services. PPNNE provides health care through a combination of federal Title X family planning funding, reimbursements for services through insurance and programs like Medicaid as well as charitable donations. Last year PPNNE provided more than $3.5 million in charitable and discounted services to patients – many of whom would have otherwise forgone care.
Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Maine. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.