Lawmakers tout free birth control under new law

Some Bay Area lawmakers are highlighting the fact that effective today, the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide free, guaranteed preventative health care for women including contraception, HPV and HIV testing, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding support and supplies and more.

“Beginning today, 47 million women across the country, including five million women in California, will now receive important preventive services without co-pay because of the new healthcare law,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said in a news release. “With these new provisions, women will no longer need to forgo preventive services to stay healthy, catch potentially life-threatening illnesses earlier, and protect against prohibitive medical costs.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, spoke about it on the House floor:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius co-authored an opinion piece in today’s edition of USA Today saying women no longer must choose between seeing a doctor for prevenative care and putting food on the table for their families.

“(U)nder the health care law, we’re banning discrimination against women in the insurance market. In 2014, it will be illegal to deny coverage to someone because of her health status. And it will also be illegal to charge women more than men just because they’re women. In other words, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition,” they wrote. “For too long, insurance companies stacked the deck against women, forcing us to pay more for coverage that didn’t meet our needs. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a new day for women’s health has arrived.”

The California Family Health Council estimates 99 percent of American women have used contraception at some point in their lives, despite an average out-of-pocket cost of $600 per year. The money women will save on birth control each year is equal to five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks, the council says.

“The policy being implemented today is a huge step forward for women’s health. The Obama Administration should be applauded for maintaining its commitment to breaking down barriers to accessing critical preventive services for women like contraception,” council president and CEO Julie Rabinovitz said in a news release. “Although there remain legal and political challenges to this new policy, these new benefits will make a real difference in the lives of women and families across the state and country.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    These old hags are self-appointed mouthies for the female majority . They crow and cackle about the issues They think are vital to the gals without bothering to consult them.

  • Rick K.

    “Live Shot” Garamendi didn’t beat them to the microphone? If “Live Shot” were running again in his current district, he’d be on this list because he usually doesn’t bypass any opportunity to spew his claptrap. However, this issue probably doesn’t poll well in the new CD-3.

  • JohnW

    If we make insurers pay for all this female health malarkey, they won’t have anything left to pay for my ED prescriptions and prostate screening.

  • Publius

    When will Libs understand that nothing is free?

  • JohnW

    Re: #4

    Actually, Publius, some of us fiscally-minded “libs” do understand that. There are plenty of examples of “free lunches” championed by “cons.”

    But, sticking to the specific topic of this post, I’m not completely convinced that all the services mentioned should be covered free, with not even a nominal co-pay, especially if you have the financial means to pay.

    On the other hand, I have heard (I could be mistaken) that the insurance companies have not been opposed to this. Why would that be? Apparently because it is less expensive for insurers to cover contraceptives than to cover all the short and long-term costs of an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. HPV testing can prevent the tragedy and cost of cervical cancer later in life. HIV testing saves lives, and not just the life of the person being tested. Ever look up the lifelong financial costs of treating a person who gets AIDS from somebody who didn’t even know he or she had the virus?

    Finally, “cons” may define this as a “nothing is free” issue But, you and I both know that, for many, it is about so-called moral issues. We all remember Rush Limbaugh’s classic rant about paying for these things so that those “sluts” can have more sex.

  • Elwood

    “sluts” can have more sex.”


    Hurray for Obamacare! I’m a born again Obamacare believer!

  • JohnW

    Elwood, I welcome you as a new fan of Obamacare. Whatever it takes. But aren’t you concerned that the Death Panel may do you in?

  • Truthclubber

    @4 —

    When will moro-cons learn that nothing the “so-called private sector” wants to do is free, either?

    Do you pay a toll for every mile you drive on I-280, I-380, I-580, I-680, I-780, I-880 or I-980 (not to mention the purely state highway systems, like CA-4, CA-13, or CA-24)?

    No, of course not, you STUPID cow — we ALL pay for it and it costs way LESS that way.

    STFU unless you want us to all start paying for everything the private sector way — with a stiff markup for the almighty P-R-O-F-I-T they will insist on.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Re 8–well. Truthy, sunshine and moonlight are free of charge, for the present.

  • Truthclubber

    @9 —

    So is a constant, day-after-day 120 degree temperature in Oklahoma City, or Phoenix — unless you want to LIVE for an extended period of time (like beyond one week), you STUPID cow — otherwise, you either pay much more for coal-fired electricity to run your over-exerted aircon 24/7 to keep yourself alive, or you start asking the “guvmint” to require that power companies use less coal and more non-CO2 producing means of power to provide that power to you.

    Look up the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” on Google (if you can) — that will explain a LOT to you.

  • Josh Richman

    @#8 & #10 – Truthclubber: I’ve left my edits to your comments visible as a lesson – try to make your points in the future without being such a personally offensive jerk, or else I’ll just start deleting your comments in their entirety. If that doesn’t work, I’ll block your access permanently. Quit crapping in my garden.