[dropcap]J[/dropcap]uneau – Today, Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) pre-filed legislation that supports the health of Alaskan women and their families by providing greater access to reproductive health care and prescription contraceptives.
House Bill 21 requires health care insurers, including Medicaid services, to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives and medical services necessary for those products or devices. HB 21 gives a woman full access to the contraceptive method that works best for her—including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as intrauterine devices and implants—without barriers related to cost or availability. HB 21 also requires coverage for dispensing up to 12 months of prescriptive contraceptives at a time.
“Alaskans often face numerous challenges when trying to access reproductive health care and prescription contraceptives. We’ve heard from women, especially in rural areas, that multiple trips a year to the pharmacy can be an insurmountable barrier in accessing consistent contraception, and that a one-year supply would assist many women in balancing their personal health with work and family life,” said Rep. Claman.
By requiring insurance to dispense a one-year supply of prescription contraceptives, HB 21 provides women and families with easier and more accessible family planning options. In doing so, it saves money for Alaskan families by reducing repeat trips to the clinic and pharmacy.
House Bill 21 also critically enables victims of contraceptive coercion, a form of domestic or interpersonal violence in which abusers dictate when and how contraceptives can or cannot be accessed as a means of gaining power and control.
“There has been an increased awareness on the national level and in Alaska of the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault. During this time, I’ve become aware of the issue of reproductive coercion; a unique form of domestic or intimate partner violence. Advocates and survivors have explained and shared stories of a variety of behaviors with the common theme of using an abused woman’s reproductive health and access to affordable birth control as a means of gaining power and control over her,” said Rep. Claman. “This deplorable behavior and blatant disregard for women’s health and autonomy is inexcusable. Contraceptive coercion is a public health issue, and it is also a public safety issue. By giving women and families access to affordable and reliable contraception, we can help current and potential victims of abuse,” said Rep. Claman.
HB 21 will be formally introduced and receive committee assignments when the 31st Alaska Legislature convenes on January 15 in Juneau.