Debrief: Secretaries Becerra and Walsh Meet with Health Insurers and Benefit Plan Stakeholders to Discuss Birth Control Coverage


US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh met with leaders of health insurers and benefit plans to call on the insurance industry to commit to its obligations of access to contraception, as required by law.

On August 1, 2011, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury issued amended regulations requiring coverage of preventive services for women as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After more than a decade of enforcement, counties continue to receive complaints about barriers to contraceptive access under the ACA.

“The Affordable Care Act requires that recommended preventative services, including contraception, be covered without cost sharing,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said. “However, we continue to hear troubling reports of non-compliance. The departments are investigating these complaints and will work actively to ensure that women receive the contraception to which they are entitled.

At the meeting, Secretary Becerra shared his concerns with representatives from health insurers and employee benefit plans.

“Women’s ability to control their reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control coverage, is under threat, and it is more important than ever to ensure that individuals have access to contraceptive coverage. without cost sharing, as permitted by the Affordable Care Act,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Departments are fully committed to upholding the ACA’s requirement to cover contraceptive coverage without out-of-pocket. No violation of this requirement will be tolerated. We ask your organizations to remove barriers and ensure that people in your plans have access to the contraceptive coverage they need, as required by law.

Today, Secretaries Walsh and Becerra joined Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen in sending a letter to group health plans and health insurance issuers reminding them of their obligations under the ACA to provide free coverage for contraceptive services. Their letter discusses general contraceptive coverage requirements and reported instances of potential noncompliance, and warns that enforcement action can be taken if noncompliance persists.

The industry meeting included in-person and virtual representatives from the following organizations: America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Association for Community Affiliated Health Plans (ACAP), Centene, Humana, Business Group on Health, CVS Health, ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), HR Policy Association, AFL-CIO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), Express Scripts, Optum, United Health Group, Kaiser Permanente, Alliance of Community Health Plans

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