Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) and 13 other Senate Democrats took a stance on protecting contraceptive coverage by issuing what the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) is characterizing as a "warning" to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In the letter, they strongly urge OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to avoid disrupting access to birth control in an upcoming review.
Interim Final rule. Under sections 1001 and 1004 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), insurers are required to cover birth control without cost-sharing. The HELP members are concerned that the OMB’s role in reviewing an as-yet unreleased interim Final rule entitled, "Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act," would result in reduced protections for access to contraceptive coverage.
This review follows a May 4, 2017, Executive Order, "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty," which directs the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and HHS to consider amended regulations, "to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate." The HELP members’ letter to Mulvaney calls the executive order "dangerous" and expressed concern that amended regulations would devastate access to coverage for preventive services. In support of their position, they state that the number of women filling prescription for oral contraceptives without cost-sharing nearly quadrupled from 2012 to 2013, and that in 2013 women saved $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for contraceptives.
The unreleased interim Final rule is not to be confused with a previous Final rule (80 FR 41318) with the same name issued by HHS, the IRS, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration in July 2015.
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