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Top Biden officials press insurers on contraceptive coverage

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The secretaries meet with representatives from insurers Anthem, Centene, Humana, CVS Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Express Scripts, Optum, United Health, Kaiser Permanente and those of industry associations America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, the National Business Group on Health, the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans and the Alliance of Community Health Plans.

Concerns about coverage

The Affordable Care Act requires payers to cover at least one form of birth control for every method approved by the Food and Drug Administration without co-payment and provide alternatives if someone’s preferred birth control method is denied. However, proponents of broad coverage say that insurers are: get around the rules and in some cases deny coverage.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform said last month that insurers were not consistently offering alternatives either. Chair Caroline Maloney, a New York Democrat, sent letters in May to many of the same payers who met with cabinet secretaries on Monday. She asked them to provide answers about coverage plans and gaps by June 9, but the committee has not yet shared their answers.

Becerra, Walsh and Yellen also wrote a letter to payers ahead of their Monday meeting.

“It is more important than ever to ensure access to contraception without out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act,” they said in the joint letter.

In the wake of the quashing of the Supreme Court decision roe deer, health policy experts are also wondering if insurers can cover abortion in restrictive states or pay for out-of-state care. In some states, the procedure is now or will soon be illegal. In eight other states, Medicaid is required to cover abortion in the case of rape, incest and protect the life of the pregnant person, but the trigger laws do not include exceptions to rape and incest.

Becerra noted Friday that FDA-approved abortion medications through the mifepristone pill are still available. But the pill isn’t approved until the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and abortion rights advocates worry it could also face coverage and access restrictions if states ban abortion.

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