Zwicker Introduces Bill to Require Health Insurance Coverage for Prescription Contraceptives in New Jersey

(TRENTON) - Assembly Democrat Andrew Zwicker introduced on Wednesday legislation that would revise New Jersey law requiring health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptive. 

Citing President Trump's reversal of an Affordable Care Act mandate requiring employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, Zwicker said this legislation is an important step toward preserving women's access in New Jersey to affordable prescription contraceptives. 

In October, President Trump issued two new rules: (1) employers who hold "sincerely held religious beliefs" against birth control will no longer be required to provide coverage, and (2) organizations and small businesses that have objections to contraceptives "on the basis of a moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief," are also exempt.

"Removing the requirement for employers to provide medical coverage for contraceptives will give some employers an excuse to deny women of their basic healthcare rights," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "That is unacceptable and we will take action in New Jersey to maintain coverage for women and ensure continued, affordable access to contraceptives."
Over 55 million women now have coverage of birth control and other preventive services without out-of-pocket costs, according to the National Women's Law Center. In addition, several studies have shown that since the ACA benefit went into effect, women are accessing birth control coverage without paying out-of-pocket costs. 

A federal judge in Philadelphia recently granted Pennsylvania's bid for in injunction against the Trump administrations new rules. 

"We should not be limiting access to affordable healthcare, we should be expanding it. With this bill, we can at least protect some of the progress we've made for women's healthcare under the Affordable Care Act," continued Zwicker.

The bill will amend the statute requiring health insurance carriers and the state health benefits programs to cover prescription female contraceptives, by prohibiting insurers from imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement on this coverage. It specifies that, in the case of a high deductible health plan, the limitation on cost-sharing will not be applied until the expenditures applicable to the deductible under federal law have been met. 

Under the bill, once, the foregoing expenditure amount has been met under the plan, coverage for prescription female contraceptives benefits is to be provided without cost-sharing. The bill also would remove the exemption in current law for religious employers to provide coverage for female contraceptives if the required coverage conflicts with the religious employers to bona fide religious beliefs and practices.