New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill today announced the passage of critical legislation that would help ensure women's freedom of choice regarding contraceptives and family planning.
"By ensuring that women are able to make their own reproductive choices, we are creating a much brighter future for everyone," said Heastie. "Research has shown that women whose income falls below the poverty line are much more susceptible to unplanned pregnancies. This legislation would ensure that women are never forced to forgo contraceptives or other family planning services."
Under the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act (A.8135-B), health insurance plans in New York will be required to cover all FDA approved categories of contraceptive drugs, devices, and products, as well as voluntary sterilization procedures, contraceptive education and counseling, and related follow up services. The bill would also prohibit insurance companies from imposing any delays to the coverage or cost-sharing requirements such as co-payments or deductibles.
"Planning is the first step to creating healthy families," said Assemblymember Cahill, chair of the Insurance Committee and sponsor of the bill. "Family planning begins with access to a full range of contraceptive services for all. These fundamental decisions shouldn't be dictated by insurance companies. By bringing all insurers in conformity with federal guidelines and our essential benefit plan, this legislation will protect those very important and personal choices."
Currently, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are considered unintended. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated a link between unplanned pregnancies and a variety of health and social issues. For example, women who experience an unintended pregnancy are more likely to have insufficient prenatal care than those who are attempting to become pregnant.
While existing federal laws attempt to protect an individual's right to contraceptive choices and accessibility, the Assembly recognizes that a lack of clarity and legal loopholes often result in a violation of these rights.
"Although the Affordable Care Act was a landmark achievement for health care in the United States, there are still gaps that leave people vulnerable," said Heastie. "In passing these important measures, we are keeping our promise to protect women's rights, especially their reproductive rights, by making sure that we close these loopholes in New York."