AUGUSTA – On Monday, the Maine Senate unanimously enacted legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to improve access and coverage of prescription contraceptives.
“When it comes to birth control, Maine patients should not be at the mercy of their insurance company. They should be able to access and afford the prescription contraceptive that works best for them based on conversations with their doctors,” said President Jackson. “By passing this bill, we can ensure that Maine patients and doctors are the ones making important health care decisions, not insurance companies and corporate shareholders. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate and House for coming together to support this measure, and am hopeful that the governor will sign it into law.”
LD 1954, “An Act to Ensure Access to Prescription Contraceptives” would require all state-regulated health care plans to cover all prescription contraceptive medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration at no out-of-pocket cost to patients.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover at least one contraceptive product in each method category of contraception at no out-of-pocket cost to patients. Unfortunately, this does not mean insurance companies must cover a patient’s preferred contraceptive product as determined by the patient and trusted health care professional. Prescription products that fall within the same method category of contraception can have meaningful differences (i.e. chemical makeup, hormone dosage and length of effectiveness).
Insurance companies are required to have a waiver process for patients in need of a contraceptive that is not covered, however, this cumbersome process is underutilized because it is so difficult for patients to navigate. According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost one in five patients say they are not using their preferred method of contraception, and a quarter of these individuals cite cost as the reason.
LD 1954 will now go to the governor’s desk. The governor has ten days to sign the bill, veto the bill or allow it to become law without her signature.