Cuomo Says Insurers to Cover Birth Control Despite Trump

Updated on
  • President Donald Trump issued order declaring he’ll repeal law
  • Affordable Care Act expanded coverage of contraception

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New York state ordered health insurers to cover birth control and abortions even if President Donald Trump signs a repeal of Obamacare that would lift federal mandates on the industry.

The state will require commercial insurers to provide broad coverage of contraceptive drugs and devices, and cover medically necessary abortions at no cost to the patient, according to a statement on Saturday from the New York Department of Financial Services.

The order to cover birth control largely matches requirements imposed on insurers by the Affordable Care Act. The mandate to cover abortion goes further than the federal law.

“These regulatory actions will help ensure that whatever happens at the federal level, women in our state will have cost-free access to reproductive health care,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in the statement.

Trump campaigned on a promise to dismantle the health law, and as one of his first official actions on Friday he signed an executive order declaring that his administration will seek the “prompt repeal” of the law. President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul expanded insurance coverage to about 20 million people; it requires that individuals buy insurance and provides subsidies to help low-income people afford it.

State Regulators

Health insurance in the U.S. is regulated by both the federal government and agencies in each state, which typically have broad power to set minimum standards and other rules. Cuomo’s action shows how some states may use that authority to preserve provisions of the ACA, even if the health law is repealed. Still, some plans offered by large employers wouldn’t be covered by New York’s regulations.

The ACA’s contraception requirements apply to most commercial health plans, such as those offered by employers, not just to individual policies sold in the markets created by the health law. The law requires broad coverage of preventive services, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings, without cost to patients.

New York’s actions take the form of two regulations. One requires health insurers to cover many types of birth control without any extra cost to the patient. It also tells insurers to cover a three-monthly supply of birth control the first time a woman obtains it, and as much as a year’s supply subsequently.

The second requires coverage for medically necessary abortions, though it provides exception for religious groups. The procedures wouldn’t carry any cost to patients, except those in high-deductible health plans.

The regulations are now open for public comment for 45 days, and will go into effect about two months after being finalized.

The announcement was timed to coincide with women’s marches in cities including New York and Washington. New York’s insurance regulator, Maria Vullo, was among the marchers in New York City.

“New York will not tolerate any impediments or impairments of women’s rights and access to reproductive health care,’’ she said in the statement.

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