Sen. Patty Murray says legislation would defend against efforts to block ‘Obamacare’ contraceptive coverage

Sen. Patty Murray introduced a measure on Tuesday that calls for birth control pills to be sold without a prescription. The bill, which echoes recommendations from the American Medical Association, is likely to increase political wrangling over the Obama administration’s requirement that health insurers cover the costs of FDA-approved contraceptives.

Murray, D-Wash., and supporters including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, say the move is intended as a defense against congressional efforts to shut down the portion of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires health insurance companies to cover one of 18 different forms of birth control without co-payments.

Without insurance coverage, Murray says, the pill can cost up to $600 a year, making it out of reach for many women. The bill would make sure that insurance still covers the cost of birth control pills if the FDA approves that particular method for sale over the counter. Typically, insurance companies do not cover the cost of OTC drugs.

“Anyone will tell you, if something is too expensive, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to get,” Murray said in a call with reporters on Tuesday. “It might as well be on the moon. Affordability and access go hand in hand.”

Dr. Nancy Stanwood, an obstetrics professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said that medical groups have long called for over-the-counter access to the pill because the research shows that women are safely able to take the pill without the need for a doctor visit or a pelvic exam. “I think that this is very common-sense measure that Senator Murray is proposing, and it’s very thoughtful in thinking ahead so that women continue to have access to birth control,” she said.

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http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/6/9/bill-proposed-for-otc-birth-control-pills.html