ACTION ITEM: Get a Hearing for the ACCESS Bill


FOCUS: Women’s Healthcare
GOAL: Get the Joint Committee on Financial Services to schedule a hearing on the ACCESS bill (S.499)
DEADLINE: ASAP

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WHAT’S HAPPENING:

An Act Relative to Advancing Contraception Coverage and Economic Security In Our State (also known as “ACCESS” – S.499, H.536), was sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler (1st Worcester), Representatives Pat Haddad (5th Bristol) and John Scibak (2nd Hampshire) in an effort to ensure access to affordable contraception. From the ATMA North Shore Reproductive Rights website:

Contraception is basic, preventive health care that every woman should be able to access, regardless of her economic status. Ninety-nine percent of women have used birth control at some point in their lives. Yet prohibitively expensive co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses can make it very difficult for a woman to protect her health and plan her family. This is especially true for our communities’ most vulnerable populations. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) guaranteed women access to preventive health care without co-pays, including birth control, allowing all women to access the contraceptive method that works best for them, regardless of their economic status. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are threatening to repeal the ACA, and with it, the added benefit of access to no-copay birth control. Even if left in place, a lack of clarity around the ACA has resulted in inconsistent implementation and, in certain cases, complete denial of coverage for certain types of birth control – even when the woman’s medical history justifies an alternative option. By requiring all Massachusetts insurance companies to cover all contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) without cost-sharing, this bill will safeguard the ACA’s promise to the 1.4 million women in Massachusetts who are counting on continued access to the birth control option that’s best for them. This bill also creates equity in coverage by eliminating cost-sharing for contraception, voluntary sterilization, and contraceptive counseling for men.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO:

The ACCESS bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services, but no hearing date has been set. A hearing is the next step in moving this bill through the legislative process, so we’re eager to get something on the calendar.

Please call and/or email the two Chairs of this Committee and ask that a hearing date be set for S.499:

You can also, of course, call your legislators and ask them to support the bill as well.

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ADDITIONAL READING & INFO:

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Image Source: Adam Fagen

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