Biden admin puts insurers on notice for compliance with ACA contraceptive mandate

The Biden administration is putting insurers on notice about compliance with contraceptive coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Department of the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a joint letter (PDF) to plan sponsors "reminding" them of their obligations.

The ACA mandates coverage for preventive women's health services, including contraceptive counseling and free birth control, for individuals and dependents. However, the secretaries say "recent reports" suggest insurers may not be holding up their end of the bargain.

The departments are concerned about complaints that health insurers are not providing contraceptive coverage with no cost-sharing, as is consistent with regulations in place from HHS, Labor and the Treasury, according to the letter.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to strengthening access to care and coverage. We are calling on the industry to remove impermissible barriers and ensure individuals have access to the contraceptive coverage they need, as required under the law,” the three secretaries wrote. “It is more important than ever to ensure access to contraceptive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act.”

In the letter, the secretaries said they expect insurers to make corrections as needed to come into compliance and said they may take action to enforce the coverage mandate as is appropriate. Officials also met with national leaders Monday with the expectation that those insurance executives would commit to making necessary changes.

Top Senate Democrats urged the feds to press insurers that may be flouting these regulations late last year.

The push to address compliance with contraceptive coverage comes as birth control could be a legal battleground in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision last week. In a concurrent opinion (PDF), Justice Clarence Thomas said that in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling that court precedent on contraception should be re-examined.