Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of Senate 499/House 536 Before the Joint Committee on Financial Services

Testimony in Support of Senate 499/House 536 Before the Joint Committee on Financial Services

The Massachusetts Medical Society wishes to be recorded in strong support of the above referenced legislation that would protect and promote access to preventative health care for patients throughout the Commonwealth. 

The Affordable Care Act has provided women with access to preventative health care, including birth control, by eliminating co-pays for that care. This bill would ensure the continuation of that vital benefit for women throughout Massachusetts, regardless of changes that may occur on the federal level. It would also build on the work already accomplished through the ACA in this area by: requiring that health plans accept physicians’ determinations, through conversation with their patients, of what medication would best serve each patient’s needs; guaranteeing insurance coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives, rather than covering one drug per category; promoting gender equity by covering birth control procedures for men; eliminating the requirement that women obtain prescriptions in order to receive emergency birth control without a copay; and extending coverage for a single dispensing of birth control medications to cover a 12-month supply of medication.

The MMS has longstanding policy supporting the rights of citizens of the Commonwealth to receive coverage for preventative health care such as contraception. The MMS “strongly supports the rights of all individuals to health, happiness, and liberty regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality, and urges all governments to recognize these rights.” Furthermore, the society “will continue to strive for universal access to health care and nondiscrimination in health care settings for all people.” This legislation would ensure vital access to care for all persons in the Commonwealth, regardless of financial situation or gender.

In particular, MMS policy supports efforts to increase access to emergency contraception: “Physicians and other health care professionals should be encouraged to...enhance efforts to expand access to emergency contraception, including making emergency contraception pills more readily available.” Specifically, “The MMS supports providing emergency contraceptive medication to patients on an over-the-counter basis.” The MMS therefore commends the provisions of this bill that would allow women to continue to be able to access emergency contraception over the counter, but without forcing them to choose between providing either a payment or a prescription. 

In addition, MMS policy states that, “The MMS through legislation and administrative regulation shall require insurers to allow contraceptive medication refills in a timely fashion to maximize compliance.” Accordingly, the MMS supports the provisions in this legislation that require coverage of contraceptives to last for 12 months.

The MMS urges the Committee on Financial Services to support the above referenced legislation to ensure that citizens of the Commonwealth receive continued and robust access to the preventative health care to which they have a human right.

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