Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics
Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics
June 02, 2017
2 min read

Women’s health advocates concerned as Trump administration considers eliminating birth control coverage

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American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, Planned Parenthood and AAFP leaders are reacting to media reports that the Trump administration is considering a rule that would scale back the federal mandate that employers provide birth control coverage, and allow for an exemption to anyone who raises moral or religious objections.

The move likely stems from an executive order President Donald J. Trump signed earlier this month that included a directive to the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor and HHS to “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

Both the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Planned Parenthood reiterated claims that such a move on birth control would be a step backward.

“In the last decade, we’ve made important progress advancing the cause of women’s health: Unintended pregnancy is at an all-time low today thanks in part to expanded access to birth control, an Affordable Care Act provision that saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in its first year alone,” Dana Singiser, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for public policy and government relations said in a statement. “This measure threatens that progress. The Trump administration should not release it.”

“Since the Affordable Care Act increased access to contraceptives, our nation has achieved a 30-year low in its unintended pregnancy rate, including among teens. Any move to decrease access to these vital services would have damaging effects on public health,” Haywood L. Brown, MD, president, ACOG, said in a statement. “The Trump administration is preparing to wipe away landmark protections for America’s women and families by rolling back no-copay contraceptive coverage. ACOG stands firm in opposition to this extremely regrettable decision to turn back the clock on women’s health.”

The ACOG previously called Trump’s executive order ‘dangerous’ because it placed health care decisions in the hands of lawmakers, not doctors and their patients.

Wanda D. Filer, MD, MBA, FAAFP, board chair, AAFP, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, indicating the Academy's opposition to the reported move.

"[We have] strong concern and opposition to a leaked Department of Health and Human Services proposed interim final rule that would rollback access to no-cost contraception coverage, as required under current law. It is our sincere hope that the administration will reconsider the issuance of this regulation and instead leave in place current policy, which has been instrumental to the health and well-being of millions of women .... We urge the administration to reconsider the promulgation of this interim final rule. Providing no-cost coverage for contraception is an important and impactful policy that has positively impacted millions of women.  We hope that you will follow the science and evidence and continue this important policy."

Earlier this year, before the House narrowly passed a version of the American Health Care Act that began the repealing of the Affordable Care Act, the AAFP, ACP, AAP, the American Osteopathic Association and ACOG issued a joint statement asking the President and Congress to stand with America’s women.

“Healthy women are the foundation of our economy and our society. Healthy women give birth to healthier babies, dramatically reducing costs associated with poor birth outcomes,” that statement read. “Healthy women can better participate in our economy and our workforce, and can reach higher levels of educational attainment.”

The rule being considered on birth control is not the first decision regarding women’s health that the Trump administration has made that ACOG and Planned Parenthood have criticized. In February, the groups condemned the rescinding of a President Obama-era rule that prohibited states from restricting federal Title X funding for any reason other than an organization’s ability to perform the services being funded, opening the door for states to direct funds away from Planned Parenthood. - by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.