The Senate's health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, will likely be voted on sometime after the Fourth of July holiday, after undergoing some edits and getting more Republican support. One notable similarity that the BCRA has with the House's American Health Care Act, which passed earlier in May, is that it's pretty brutal when it comes to women's health care, though the Senate bill is meant to have more "heart." If that's true, you'd have to figure that there are some types of birth control covered under the BCRA. Alas, that's not really the case.
If you were concerned about your birth control under the AHCA, it turns out birth control will actually cost more under the BCRA. As Andrea Flynn, a health policy fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, said in an email statement to Romper, the BCRA will "make it much harder to avoid a pregnancy that you don’t want, it’s going to make it harder to [end] an unwanted pregnancy, and it’s going to make it harder to take care of that baby when you do have it."
In addition to that, the Congressional Budget Office believes that there will be "additional pregnancies" if the BCRA is passed. Birth control might still be covered in group plans or some states may still require insurance companies to fully cover it. But more likely than not, most birth control won't be covered under the BCRA for a few reasons.
A Slashed Essential Health Benefits Program
You might not know this, given all of the controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act, but it had this pretty liberal stipulation in it that required states to require that insurance companies covered all "essential health" benefits. This included maternity and neonatal care, lab tests, preventative care, prescriptions, and, of course, birth control. Both the AHCA and the Senate BCRA would get rid of essential health benefits, so that women's premiums could go up to include birth control or their co-pays would be higher.
Defunding Planned Parenthood
If you're scanning through the BCRA and don't see the words "Planned Parenthood," don't be fooled. The bill doesn't specifically mention Planned Parenthood, but there are provisions citing "prohibited entities” which block any funding to health care clinics that perform abortion. But Planned Parenthood does way more than provide access to safe abortion — it also provides birth control to women among many other things.
Defunding Planned Parenthood, in addition to all of the other harsh Medicaid cuts the BCRA would implement, means that low income women who aren't on group or other individual health insurance plans won't have access to affordable birth control. In 105 counties across the country, according to Vox, Planned Parenthood is the only place women can go to get affordable birth control and full service care at all. In that sense, no birth control will be "covered" or even offered under the BCRA.
Giving States All The Power
Both the AHCA and BCRA give states the power to regulate their insurance companies and plans. This goes both ways. In some sense, there is hope that the more humane states would keep some essential health benefits, including birth control, or ensure that women's health clinics remained open.
Unfortunately, that just never seems to happen, does it? More likely, it would give states the power to allow insurance companies to not cover birth control. Already, some employers don't have to offer plans that include birth control at all, thanks to the Hobby Lobby ruling of 2014. Earlier this month, President Trump also rolled back an Obama-era protection that mandated birth control coverage, and which would go into effect as soon as its published in the Federal Register — with or without the BCRA to back it up.
If you're worried about birth control coverage, you should be. Neither the administration nor Congress seems to have any intention of preventing unplanned pregnancies or giving women access to medicine that helps with endometriosis and other conditions that birth control can treat. It's a shame that more legislators don't think women's reproductive health has anything to do with them.