The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act
The contraceptive coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was meant to make it possible for women to access contraception without co-pays. In line with guidance concerning this provision, recently released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this bill, known as the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act (CCCA), requires insurers to cover at least one method of contraception from each of the 18 distinct categories, as designated by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with no co-pay. Due to the existence of oral contraceptives with differing therapeutic and pharmaceutical makeups, insurers may be required to cover more than one method from one or two of the 18 categories.
Beyond simply ensuring that insurers are covering the full range of contraceptives defined by HHS, the CCCA would also require insurers to: cover contraceptives prescribed to men, as well as male sterilization, with no cost sharing; allow patients to access emergency contraception (EC) at a pharmacy with a non-patient specific prescription and have it covered; and provide coverage for the dispensing of 12 months of contraceptives at one time.
Making Pregnancy a Qualifying Event – This bill has been PASSED by both the Assembly and the Senate!
Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, there are certain “qualifying events” that allow people to enroll in coverage outside of the open enrollment period. Noticeably missing from these events is pregnancy. Despite the fact that a parent can apply for enrollment after the birth of a child, current law does not allow uninsured women who become pregnant to enroll in commercial health care unless they apply during the open enrollment period. This policy contradicts the clear benefits of early access to prenatal care, and the positive impacts it has for maternal and child health. This bill would create pregnancy as a qualifying event, making it possible for uninsured pregnant women to gain coverage and more easily access the prenatal care necessary for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Studies show that infants born to mothers who had little or no prenatal care in the first trimester have a low birth weight rate that is three times higher than that of infants born to mothers who received the recommended prenatal care, and have a rate of infant mortality that is five times higher.These are statistics that must not be ignored – it is vital that pregnant women are able to access the prenatal care they need to keep themselves healthy and to give birth to a healthy child.
The Reproductive Services Act
The Reproductive Services Act updates New York law to clearly protect the core rights established in Roe v. Wade. This bill aligns New York law with federal precedent and current medical practice. In 1970, New York amended its penal code section that criminalized abortion to add an exception to what was considered a ‘justifiable abortion.’ Prior to that amendment, abortion was only ‘justifiable’ to preserve a woman’s life.
The 1970 amendment to New York’s penal code legalized abortions performed within 24 weeks of the commencement of pregnancy. In 1973, the US Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973), stated that women have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability and, thereafter, in order to protect their life or health. Since that time, the health exception has been read into New York law. Without a health exception, treatment cannot be provided until a woman’s health has seriously deteriorated. In no way does the Reproductive Services Act expand the time frame during which an abortion can be legally obtained in New York, and it does not override existing federal restrictions on abortion, including the federal partial birth abortion ban, codified under 18 U.S.C. section 1531.
Paid Family Leave Insurance Act
Under current state law, workers in New York State have no legal right to paid leave in the event that they need to provide for a new, or newly adopted, child, or an ill family member. Unfortunately, most employers do not provide this benefit voluntarily. Low- Income workers are disproportionately impacted by this burden.
In fact, the highest 10% of wage earners are six times more likely to have paid family leave than the lowest 10% of wage earners. Without the ability to access paid family leave, workers may be forced to take unpaid leave or temporarily depart the workforce to provide care. This can leave workers in the untenable position of having to choose between the care of a family member and the economic well being of their family. Paid family leave has been shown to allow parents to recover from childbirth, bond with new children, and better meet the health needs of their families. Paid leave also allows workers to support the health needs of elderly family members. Family Planning Advocates supports legislation to promote economic empowerment and strengthen the health and well being of New York families.
The “Boss Bill”
Following the United States Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case, it has become exceedingly clear that we must work harder than ever to ensure that an employer’s personal beliefs don’t trump a worker’s access to reproductive health care.
The Boss Bill would protect an employee from retaliation based on the reproductive health care they choose to access, regardless of their boss’s personal feelings on the matter. If a worker is denied coverage for certain drugs, products, or procedures, they must be able to access that health care on their own without fear of retaliation.
This legislation is necessary to protect the rights of workers in New York and their ability to access the health care they need. New York has demonstrated its commitment to protecting employees from workplace discrimination in the past, and it is now time to ensure that reproductive health matters are covered within these protections.
Minor’s access to Preventive Care
Currently, New York law has a provision that allows teens to consent to testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but the law contains no provision that allows teens to consent to care to prevent an STI. This bill would allow minors to consent to preventative care for STIs, such as administration of a vaccine used to prevent the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Allowing teens to consent to preventive care is a practical step towards reducing the rates of STIs and will positively impact the health of New Yorkers in the long run. HPV and Hepatitis B (HBV) are two STIs that are largely prevented through FDA-approved immunizations. These immunizations are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as safe and effective methods of curtailing the rates of these infections and the potentially life-threatening illnesses associated with them.
The Remaining Provisions of the Women’s Equality Agenda – These bills have been PASSED by both the Assembly and the Senate!
Family Status Discrimination in the Workplace
Current New York State Human Rights Law does not include provisions that safeguard workers from discrimination based on their familial status. This means that employees are faced with the possibility of being denied promotions, passed over for raises, or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace simply because of their status as a parent. The lack of legal protections for mothers and fathers leaves parents vulnerable to unfair firing practices, job rejections, and lower salaries. This legislation would amend existing law to prohibit discrimination in employment based on familial status. This bill is the safeguard New York parents need to continue to support their children.
Housing Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence
No law currently exists to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a person based on their status as a victim of domestic violence. Access to housing is a basic component in achieving economic independence, a goal that the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) recognizes as being indispensable to safety. A lack of economic independence forces victims to remain dependent on their abusers, thus making it impossible for them to remove themselves from dangerous living situations. It is past time that legislation was put in place to assist women in leaving their abusers with the knowledge that they will be able to find housing elsewhere.