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AG James demands health insurance providers protect women’s access to birth control

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NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today demanded that three health insurance companies immediately provide coverage for 12-month supplies of contraceptives in accordance with New York State law. Under the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA), health insurance providers are required to cover 12-month supplies of contraception at one time, yet the Attorney General's Office found that Aetna, MetroPlus Health, and Oscar Health have refused to provide coverage for 12-month supplies to patients. In letters to these three companies, Attorney General James stressed the importance of adhering to this law especially in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as many New Yorkers lose their jobs, health insurance coverage, and need to limit unnecessary trips to pharmacies.

"There's nothing more important than protecting New Yorkers' health care, including reproductive care," said Attorney General James. "With more than one million New Yorkers losing their jobs, and with it their health insurance, it's critically important that women are able to fill their birth control prescriptions for the full duration allowed under the law. Insurance companies must comply with the law and permit women to get up to a year's supply of birth control. During this crisis and beyond, I will continue to fight to protect New Yorkers' health care and their rights."

The Attorney General's Office received multiple complaints from New Yorkers that these companies refused to provide patients with 12-month supplies when requested and that representatives did not know this was required. The Attorney General's Office is also reminding other insurers in New York State of their obligations under the CCCA. 

In addition to ensuring access to 12-month supplies, the CCCA, which took effect on January 1, 2020, requires that health plans cover all forms of contraception without deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirements, ensures access to emergency contraception, and prohibits any restrictions or delays on coverage, such as pre-authorizations.  

Attorney General James encourages anyone who has been denied this coverage by their health insurance plan or pharmacy or who believes they are being wrongfully denied other care to please report it to the Attorney General's Office Health Care Bureau Helpline by filing a complaint or calling 1-800-428-9071. New Yorkers seeking information about available health plans in New York State should visit the state's health plan marketplace.

"In this time of unprecedented social and economic uncertainty, it is particularly important that nothing stands in the way of birth control access," said Jenna Bimbi, Executive Director of the New York Birth Control Access Project. "The CCCA ensures uninterrupted access to contraception, and health care companies that fail to follow its requirements deny New Yorkers their rights and force them to choose between following stay-at-home orders and their reproductive health and autonomy. We applaud Attorney General James for standing up for us and recognizing the critical role that contraception plays in the lives of all New Yorkers."

"During this crisis it is crucial that all health insurance companies operating in New York State comply with the CCCA," said State Senator Julia Salazar. "Reproductive health care is a right of all people, and anyone who needs it must have access to affordable contraception. It is a matter of public health and safety that every insurance plan cover a 12-month supply of birth control to patients who are prescribed it and I thank Attorney General James for her leadership in protecting this right."

"The laws we pass are only as strong as their powers of enforcement and we count on firm action such as this to gain compliance. The Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act codified existing Federal Law requiring all 18 types of approved contraception are available and covered by insurance policies without additional fees," said Assemblymember Kevin Cahill. "The law came about, unfortunately, because some insurers took advantage of the lack of clarity in federal law and limited the diverse array of family planning coverage. It has come to our attention that even with this strong statement by the legislature, non-compliance continues and it is again necessary to demand adherence for all New Yorkers. Attorney General Letitia James takes her role to enforce our laws very seriously. She is making clear our commitment to protect reproductive rights of all New Yorkers and we are grateful for that."

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