New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin is among nearly two dozen state attorneys general urging the Biden administration to scrap Trump-era rules that allow employers to have a say in the reproductive health decisions of employees.
In an April 3 letter to U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Department of Labor acting Secretary Julie Su, the coalition said it welcomes the White House’s proposal to restore access to cost-free contraceptive coverage for all Americans.
Signed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage mandate required all employers and sponsors of health plans to cover the cost of preventative services necessary for women’s health, including U.S. Food & Drug Administration-approved birth control without out-of-pocket costs and any over-the-counter product without a prescription.
However, a series of exemptions was added in 2017 and 2018 by the Trump administration that enabled companies to deny birth control coverage to employees based on religious or moral objections. According to Platkin, the change – which did not require that workers be informed they’d lost coverage – impacted an estimated 70,500 to 126,400 women.
In January, the Department of Health & Human Services, the Justice Department and Treasury Department unveiled a proposal aimed at expanding access to free birth control under the ACA.
Along with removing the exemption that allows private health plans and insurers to deny coverage on moral grounds, the administration recommended creating an Individual Contraceptive Arrangement (ICA) to ensure patients enrolled in health plans or coverage sponsored by objecting employers would still be able to get contraceptive services at no cost.
Platkin, along with 21 other attorneys general, said they support the removal of the moral exemption, but would like the administration to clarify the religious exemption. They also said they believe the ICA should be expanded to include a wider spectrum of individuals who are excluded from coverage as well as additional protections to secure patient privacy, safeguard them from retaliation and create a process for contesting medical bills.
“Everyone in this country has a right to high-quality reproductive health care and family planning services, a right that was chipped away by the previous administration,” Platkin said in a statement. “We are urging the Biden Administration to restore those rights so every American has access to safe, affordable, and effective birth control no matter what their employers’ beliefs are.”
More than 62 million women across the country benefited from the ACA requirement, said Platkin, noting that studies have shown contraceptive care access supports an individual’s ability to control their own reproductive health, as well as promotes access to education, jobs and financial wellness.
The coalition was led by Platkin along with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry. They were joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.