Reps pledge to fight changes

Gath­er­ing held in re­sponse to mod­i­fi­ca­tions to con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age

The Review - - Front Page - By Rick Kauffman rkauff­man@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kauf­fee_DT on Twit­ter

Penn­syl­va­nia leg­is­la­tors gath­ered within Philadel­phia City Hall Nov. 1 to pledge a fight for women’s rights on the state level af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion nar­rowed the breadth of con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age in the Af­ford­able Care Act.

In early Oc­to­ber, the new rules en­acted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion widened the range that em­ploy­ers and in­sur­ers can limit health cov­er­age based on re­li­gious or moral be­liefs, avoid­ing the ACA’s re­quire­ment to of­fer birth con­trol pills and other con­tra­cep­tives.

Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro filed a law­suit against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, say­ing Oct. 11 at a Planned Par­ent­hood health cen­ter in Philadel­phia that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion “broke the law and un­der­mined the health and eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence of Amer­i­can women.

State Rep. Leanne Krueger- Braneky, D-161 of Swarth­more, said she and other mem­bers of the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives were draft­ing a bill that­would pre­serve con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age in the com­mon­wealth.

“Con­tra­cep­tion is health care, and ac­cess to health care is a fun­da­men­tal hu­man right that is in­ex­tri­ca­bly tied to eco­nomic mo­bil­ity and free­dom,” KruegerBraneky said. “By mak­ing ba­sic pre­ven­tive care like the pill a costly luxury, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is sidelin­ing girls and women – whether they are stu­dents, hourly wage work­ers, young pro­fes­sion­als, or al­ready moms.”

The leg­is­la­tion pro­posed by Krueger-Braneky, Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-172 of Philadel­phia, and Rep. Tina Davis, D-141 of Bristol, would re­quire that all state-reg­u­lated and self-funded in­surance plans in Penn­syl­va­nia cover con­tra­cep­tives and va­sec­tomies.

“Gov­ern­ment has no busi­ness lim­it­ing the health care op­tions avail­able to women,” Davis said. ““This bill not only pro­tects our right to make our own choices about our bod­ies, but it sends a mes­sage to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that Penn­syl­va­nia women will not be ham­pered by its bad poli­cies.”

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would also elim­i­nate most co-pay­ments for birth con­trol and va­sec­tomies, en­able women to re­ceive 12 months of birth con­trol at one time and lift pre-au­tho­riza­tions on in­trauter­ine de­vices.

“The roll­back of the birth con­trol man­date is a roll­back of women’s rights and civil rights,” KruegerBraneky said. “I urge my col­leagues in the Penn­syl­va­nia House to stand up for women, girls and work­ing fam­i­lies and pro­tect af­ford­able ac­cess to health care, in­clud­ing con­tra­cep­tion.”

Cur­rently 28 states – in­clud­ing New York, New Jer­sey, Mary­land, Delaware and Ohio – re­quire in­sur­ers that cover pre­scrip­tion drugs to also pro­vide cov­er­age of FDAap­proved pre­scrip­tion con­tra­cep­tive drugs.

In terms of cost, Ne­vada, for ex­am­ple, which didn’t have a spe­cific line item in its bud­get for fam­ily plan­ning, al­lo­cated $ 500,000 for 2018 and 2019 due to the threat to fed­eral fund­ing streams. But, is that enough? Cer­tainly the AG law­suit against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment seems to be the best op­tion to pro­tect women’s rights, but the Demo­cratic House mem­bers who gath­ered at City Hall wanted to stress that Penn­syl­va­nia should be among the 28 other states that al­ready have pro­tec­tions in place.

“The pre­ven­tive ben­e­fit un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion saved women $1.4 bil­lion on birth con­trol the first year it went into ef­fect and con­trib­uted to an all-time low in un­in­tended preg­nancy,” Boyle said. “We must raise our voice and con­tinue the fight to make it pos­si­ble for all of us to achieve the max­i­mum level of health and well­be­ing.”

In 2010, 53 per­cent of all preg­nan­cies in Penn­syl­va­nia were un­in­tended, ac­cord­ing to the Guttmacher In­sti­tute, which stud­ies and ad­vo­cates for sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health and rights in the United States.

Fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments spent $726.8 mil­lion on un­in­tended preg­nan­cies in 2010 – $478.6 mil­lion paid by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and $248.2 mil­lion paid by the state. The to­tal public costs was about $298 per woman aged 15- 44.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, avert­ing un­in­tended preg­nan­cies and other neg­a­tive re­pro­duc­tive health out­comes could have helped save the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments $434.4 mil­lion in 2010.

“Women have been in a con­stant bat­tle with gov­ern­ment on a num­ber of is­sues – fight­ing for their com­mu­ni­ties, for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, to close the pay gap,” Boyle said. “Yet, women are still com­bat­ing the so­cial and eco­nomic forces that try to de­prive them of their re­pro­duc­tive au­ton­omy.

“Why are women still fight­ing to have con­trol over their own bod­ies?”

RICK KAUFFMAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, cen­ter, speaks in the Mayor’s Re­cep­tion Room in Philadel­phia City Hall to an­nounce a plan by Demo­cratic mem­bers of the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to pre­serve cov­er­age for women seek­ing con­tra­cep­tion ben­e­fits through their com­pany’s health care plan.

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