RMC Responds: Contraceptive Equity

rmc_respondsIn response to various recent posts about contraception coverage,  we’ve noticed a theme in comments regarding the accessibility of birth control. Some commenters ask,  “Why should I pay for someone else’s birth control?” and others make claims such as,  “you can get birth control on every corner.

As Republicans we support the call for controlling government spending and making smarter investments concerning when and where to use federal funds and want to explore this issue more.  Most can agree that Birth control is also the most effective way of reducing unintended pregnancies and the rate and incidence of abortions nationwide. And investing in birth control,  as a part of the current investments by the government in family planning – such as Title X-,  is both proven effective and cost-efficient. While it is certainly true that condoms are widely available in both pharmacies or corner stores,  condoms are not the most effective method of birth control.  Contraception is not cheap,  and yearly costs can reach hundreds of dollars for the most effective methods. Long Acting Reversible Contraception (or LARCs) such as implants or IUDs can cost as much as a thousand dollars. Additionally,  contraceptive care includes regular medical examinations,  increasing the general expense of using contraception.

All major medical institutions in the U.S. consider contraceptive medications to be part of fundamental preventive health care. Yet, this prescription medication is not treated the same as any other kind of prescription drug. Prior to the recent debate over the contraception regulation,  federal law already required federal health plans to include coverage for contraceptives,  and twenty-eight states had contraceptive coverage laws in place requiring insurance companies that cover other prescription drugs to also cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices. Nearly all insurance plans cover prescription drugs already. The exclusion of contraceptive drugs from prescription drugs coverage is unique and unprecedented. No other medication or services are so uniformly restricted from so-called comprehensive insurance plans. Everything from viagra to certain weight-loss treatments like gastric banding are covered by the majority of employer-provided insurance plans,  and unlike contraception,  these drugs and procedures are clearly life-style choices.

As mainstream,  fiscally conservative Republicans,  we recognize that smart and targeted investments in preventive healthcare policies can save government and taxpayer dollars. This is the kind of commonsense thinking that led Republican President Richard Nixon to create Title X,  writing,  “It is clear that the domestic family planning services supported by the Federal Government should be expanded and better integrated… It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” Mainstream Republicans today recognize that supporting investing in proven-effective family planning policies is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies and teen pregnancies and drastically reduce the rate and incidence of abortion nationwide.

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