Gov. Josh Shapiro presses insurance companies to cover contraceptive pill - TAI News
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Gov. Josh Shapiro is urging health insurance companies in Pennsylvania to cover Opill, the nation’s first over-the-counter nonprescription birth control medication.

Advocates say that coverage of Opill, a progesterone-only contraceptive medication, would remove barriers to accessing birth control. Retailers including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid began selling the drug, manufactured by Perrigo, in stores in early April, retailing for $19.99 for a one-month supply. The Food and Drug Administration approved the medication in July 2023.

“For millions of women, birth control represents personal freedom and the ability to make choices over their own bodies. Now it’s time that insurance companies step up – I believe no one should be denied access to birth control because they can’t afford it,” Shapiro said in a press release issued by his office.

Michael Humphreys, the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner, vowed that if insurers chose not to cover the medication, his office would ask that they explain their decision.

“PID will be pushing companies to make sure exception processes aren’t preventing women from obtaining reproductive health care,” Humphreys said in the press release.

According to a 2022 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of women say they use some form of contraception. Additionally, over 19 million women of reproductive age, considered to be between 18 and 49, live in what are called “contraceptive deserts,”  places in which a variety of barriers exist for people seeking access to birth control.

In an interview with the Keystone, Dr. Alhambra Frarey, an OB-GYN in Philadelphia, said: “It’s an incredibly safe medication. It has the potential to help a wide group of people. … It’s a wonderful advancement in access to contraception in the US.”

“Barriers to accessing healthcare, including contraception, definitely disproportionately affect people of color, indigenous people, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living in poverty, those living with disabilities. So this is definitely a health equity issue,” Frarey said.

 In a video accompanying a post to his official X account, Shapiro announced what the post called “guidance to health insurers in Pennsylvania that it is now best practice for plans to provide coverage for over-the-counter contraception with or without a prescription.”“No one should be denied access to birth control because they can’t afford it,” Shapiro said in the video. “As your governor, I am always going to protect reproductive health and a woman’s right to choose. We’ll keep holding folks accountable to defend affordable access to health care across Pennsylvania.”

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