Senator Murray: Don't "Pay Twice" For Your Birth Control

Photo: Stephen Brashear/AP Photo.
Yesterday, Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, introduced a new bill with a simple goal: To make birth control not just easy to get, but affordable, too. It would do that by making the pill available without a prescription, and ensuring it's covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act, so most women could get it for free.

Her new bill comes hot on the heels of proposed legislation from two republican colleagues of hers that would also make birth control available over the counter, but theirs could leave women paying out of pocket, at the average cost of about $600 a year.

Today, we asked Senator Murray to explain why she introduced the bill — and why she thinks you should speak up about your right to affordable, accessible contraception.

Over the last 50 years, our country has come a long way toward ensuring women can make their own choices about their own bodies. Today, nearly every woman will use birth control at some point in her life. And now that birth control is counted as a critical health benefit that insurance companies have to cover with no out of pocket costs, more than 55 million women across the country are saving money and getting the care they need.

That’s great progress. But as someone who believes strongly that women should be able to make their own decisions about their own health care — without asking permission, without being charged extra, and without politicians interfering — I know there is a lot more to do. That’s why I’m proud to be introducing the Affordability is Access Act, which would take another important step forward on women’s health.

The Affordability is Access Act would ensure that if and when the FDA approves birth control pills for daily use over the counter, insurance companies have to keep covering it just like they have since the Affordable Care Act passed — but without a prescription. This bill recognizes that access and affordability go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Making birth control more affordable and more accessible would help empower women with the health care that best meets their needs, and as history shows, that means more opportunity and more economic security.

But unfortunately, republicans in Congress are proposing a very different approach. They’ve said they support over the counter birth control pills — but they are also dead-set on repealing the Affordable Care Act and going back to the days when women could be charged out of pocket for birth control. If they had their way, women might be able to get birth control pills over the counter, but they wouldn’t be fully covered. In fact, their plan would leave many women paying twice — once to the insurance company and once at the pharmacy.

When republicans offer women access without affordability, it’s like offering somebody a single shoe. You really need the pair! And we need progress on women’s health — not just smoke and mirrors.

So today, I’m calling on women across the country to stand up and make your voices heard, using the hashtag #BetterBCAccess. Tell your members of Congress that you shouldn’t have to pay twice for the health care you need — and that access without affordability just won’t cut it. I’m here in Congress fighting for real solutions for women, and with your help, I’m confident we can deliver.
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