E&C Dems to Trump Administration: Can You Justify Jeopardizing Preventive Care for Millions of Women?
Energy and Commerce Committee Democratic leaders sent a letter to Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Eric Hargan today requesting the analysis and justification used to justify the Trump Administration’s decision to abruptly expand the exemption allowing certain organizations to exempt themselves from the contraceptive coverage requirements guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The letter was signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Vice Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-FL).
“We have serious concerns about the rules, as they will drastically expand the number of employers eligible to seek exemptions to the contraceptive coverage guarantee and will imperil untold numbers of women’s access to affordable contraception,” the four lawmakers wrote to Hargan. “We fail to see how the Administration will ensure that women have coverage for contraception while at the same time proposing drastic cuts to the very programs that provide these services. Birth control is a critical preventive health tool for women that should not be singled out or treated differently from any other preventive health service.”
The ACA guarantees that women covered under employer-sponsored group health insurance plans will have access to all necessary preventive care and approved contraceptive coverage, without cost-sharing obligations. Since the implementation of this provision, the average percentage of out-of-pocket contraception costs for women has dropped by at least 20 percent. Taken together with the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to Medicaid – which includes a 90 percent federal match for family planning services – and a law signed by President Trump in April that attempts to allow states to block certain health care providers from receiving Title X funds, these rules amount to an attack on women’s access to preventive health care.
As part of their inquiry, the lawmakers are requesting several documents and answers to a series of questions including:
- A detailed analysis supporting the Administration’s claim that “over 99.9 percent” of women will not be affected and how HHS plans to track the total number of women impacted.
- An analysis of how women’s access to contraception coverage will be impacted by proposed budget cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in relation to the Interim Final Rules (IFRs).
- An explanation of how the Administration expects to ensure coverage for impacted women when organizations that decline to provide coverage are not required to report their decision to HHS.
- Justification for the Administration’s decision to issue IFRs on this matter, effective immediately, and not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act’s required notice and comment period.
A copy of the letter is available here.