History made for contraceptive coverage!

Today, a woman buying emergency contraception over the counter will spend between $35 and $60. But in Maryland starting in 2018, she’ll be able to use her private insurance for any FDA-approved over-the-counter (OTC) contraceptive drug—with no copays! This important advance is thanks to the Contraceptive Equity Act, signed into law earlier this month. This is big news for Maryland women, with even bigger implications for the fight the NWHN is involved in to move the daily pill OTC.

The provision builds on existing Medicaid OTC coverage, extending the coverage requirement to all private Maryland-regulated insurance plans. But the Act goes even further: it requires insurers to cover vasectomies, allows women to pick up six months of contraception at a time, and prohibits insurers from requiring pre-authorization for methods like IUDs and implants.

A key player in the fight was a project sponsored by the NWHN, the MD Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform. The Coalition launched its independence on Thursday with a bold new name: Consumer Health First. Starting with the creation of the National Black Women’s Health Project in 1984 by women’s health activist and NWHN board member Byllye Avery, the NWHN has a long history of giving women-led projects the sponsorship they need to succeed.

I was thrilled to celebrate the launch of Consumer Health First, with the splendid group of volunteers and supporters who made the Contraceptive Equity Act and other successes possible. I’m excited for what the future will bring. And I look forward to working with allies around the country to bring Maryland’s gains to women nationwide!