Days may be numbered for free birth control mandate, as Trump officials review

The days may be numbered for free birth control for women in the U.S.

As Republicans work to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress may look to end the government requirement that insurance companies cover the cost of contraception, The Hill reported.

GOP conservatives have opposed the birth control mandate of former President Obama’s signature health care policy, fighting it as an infringement on religious liberty because it required employers to pay for contraception coverage.

There may now be a chance to eliminate the mandate as Republicans hold Congress and the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services is now headed up by Tom Price, who opposed the mandate while serving as a Georgia congressman.

“There’s a lot of pressure on this administration and a lot of people within the administration who clearly have an agenda that runs contrary to this provision,” Adam Sonfield, from the liberal think tank, the Guttmacher Institute, said, according to the Hill.

“It certainly looks like a strong possibility that they’re going to try to do something.”

Congress may not need to issue an act reversing the birth control mandate as other possible scenarios exist.

The HHS could create new legislation that excludes birth control from the services for women that insurers must cover at no cost. An executive order by President Trump in his first days in office, easing the burden of ObamaCare on federal agencies, also creates a possible direction Price could take with HHS.

Though it is not yet clear what changes Congress will be making to ObamaCare, Price indicated at his confirmation hearing last month that women would have to pay for their own contraception.

“I think contraception is absolutely imperative for many, many women and the system that we ought to have in place is one that allows women to be able to purchase the kind of contraception they desire,” Price said, according to the Hill.

Virginia Republican Rep. David Brat suggested the use of health savings accounts to cover medical expenses like birth control.

“The HSAs are your personal money — then those are individual decisions that a patient can make with them,” Brat said.

Rep. Phil Roe, who co-chairs the GOP doctors caucus, offered the idea of allowing over the counter sales of birth control. “In other words, you come in [to a pharmacy], you want birth control, you get it, you go,” the Tennessee Republican said.

While there is no confirmation that the birth control mandate will be eliminated or reversed, one thing lawmakers can count on is the backlash such action will spark by many on the left.

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Frieda Powers


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