Today Governor Shumlin made it easier for all Vermonters to access contraceptives by signing bill H.620 into law.
In a ceremony on the State House steps, the Governor, legislative allies, and advocates discussed the need to guarantee access to birth control, and the stark contrast between Vermont and other states where politicians are trying to in fact make it harder for women to gain access. In his remarks House Speaker Shap Smith stated,
“Women deserve the right to have control over their own bodies.”
In Vermont, approximately half of all pregnancies are unplanned.[i] This new law includes three main components aimed at reducing Vermont’s unintended pregnancy rate.
- The first is to codify and expand the birth control benefits found in the Affordable Care Act. Under Vermont’s new law, not only will everyone be able to access no-cost federal birth control benefits, but now these benefits are secured in state law and expanded to include vasectomies. This policy recognizes that it is the obligation of both men and women to be responsible for their reproductive choices. “It was just sort of a no-brainer that when we’re talking about different birth control options, we ought to include vasectomies,” Said Rep. Chris Pearson, Vice Chair of House Health Care Committee.
- The law also aims to improve the effectiveness of oral contraceptives by allowing women to get a full year’s prescription from their health care provider. For oral contraceptives to be effective at preventing unplanned pregnancies, consistency is essential. Allowing women to access a full year’s supply of oral contraceptives will reduce barriers that make them less effective. Recent studies have shown that dispensing a one year supply of oral contraceptives is associated with a 30% reduction in the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies.[ii]
- Finally, the law eliminates financial barriers that have been making it difficult for women to access long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), the most effective form of birth control.[iii] This law will align our health care payment model by creating a value based payment for LARCs, making it easier for women to access the contraceptive method of their choice. A value base payment for the insertion and removal of LARCs brings parity to LARCs and oral contraceptives, reflecting the higher efficacy rate of LARCs in reducing unintended pregnancies.
We want to thank our allies at Planned Parenthood and all those in the legislatures that helped make this policy law. You can read the full text of the bill as passed by the House and the Senate by clicking here: http://bit.ly/1sxQgPS.
[ii] Foster D, Parvataneni R, de Bocanegra H, Lewis C, Bradsberry M, Darney P. Number of oral contraceptive pill packages dispensed, method continuation, and costs. Obstet Gynecol 2006; 108:1107-14