Biden admin to insurers: Don't cut off birth control coverage

Insurers must provide contraceptive coverage at no cost or face potential enforcement action, according to new federal guidance meant to counter reports of coverage denials.

The departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Treasury and Labor issued new guidance Thursday clarifying birth control protections created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The guidance comes less than a month after regulators warned insurers to follow the law. 

“With abortion care under attack, it is critical that we ensure birth control is accessible nationwide, and that employers and insurers follow the law and provide coverage for it with no additional cost,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement. “Family planning, one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, is key to better health outcomes.”

The ACA requires most private plans to offer birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost to beneficiaries. Other services required to be offered at no additional charge include sterilization procedures, implanted devices such as intrauterine devices and diaphragms.

“Today, we are taking another important step by reminding employer-sponsored health plans and health insurance issuers of their obligations to provide the full range of contraceptive care to their enrollees,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The guidance comes as lawmakers in the Senate have ramped up calls for greater enforcement on insurers that flout the ACA’s rules.

Lawmakers and the Biden administration have also been worried about contraception access in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. One of the majority opinions in the ruling also wanted to target contraception and gay marriage rulings, prompting the Senate to hold an unsuccessful vote earlier this week to codify access to birth control.