Alaska legislation would eliminate co-pay for birth control

Lawmakers have sent to the governor legislation that would increase insurance coverage for birth control.

A large bipartisan majority of the Senate approved the measure on May 9. Alaskans may access up to 12 months of contraceptives at a time and without a co-pay from pharmacies in the state if Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs the bill into law.

The House approved Senate amendments to the bill on May 10.

House Bill 17 requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptives without a co-payment and to retroactively cover existing prescriptions when Alaskans sign up for new insurance coverage.

Current law limits Alaskans to 90 days of birth control, which is a barrier to access, said the bill’s sponsor, Fairbanks Rep. Ashley Carrick.

Anchorage Sen. Löki Tobin carried the bill in the Senate and said the change is important because many Alaskans cannot readily access pharmacies when they need to refill their prescriptions for birth control.

“We have folks who go off on fishing boats, who spend time on the North Slope, who are in communities that don’t have consistent mail access. Additionally, we have folks who go off to fish camp in the summer and may need their particular contraception for medical needs and necessity,” Tobin said.

The bill exempts some religious employers, and lawmakers removed all references to emergency contraception that were in the original bill.

Tobin said other lawmakers have pushed for similar legislation since 2016.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization. Alaskabeacon.com.

 

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