According to the news released by the White House, the Executive Order on Strengthening Access to Affordable, High-Quality Contraception and Family Planning Services is issued by President Biden. The President has signed three executive orders pertaining to access to reproductive health care since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but this one will be the first to have a specific focus on maintaining and enhancing access to contraceptives. In light of Dobbs and the subsequent crises in women’s access to healthcare, contraception is a vital part of reproductive healthcare and has only grown in significance.
Access to Contraceptives Executive Order
By the Executive Order issued, the President will:
- Promote Increased Access to Contraception that can be bought Over-the-Counter. The Executive Order orders the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to investigate new measures to increase access to over-the-counter contraceptives that are cheap, including emergency contraception. Among these steps could be bringing together pharmacies, employers, and insurers to discuss ways to increase access to affordable over-the-counter contraception; identifying promising practices regarding the coverage of over-the-counter contraception at no cost to patients; and offering guidance to support seamless coverage of over-the-counter contraception.
- Encourage wider access to contraceptives that can be bought Over-the-Counter. According to the Executive Order, the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services must think of innovative initiatives to increase access to contraceptives with reasonably priced over-the-counter, including emergency contraception. These steps could include bringing together pharmacies, employers, and insurers to discuss ways to increase access to affordable over-the-counter contraception; identifying promising practices regarding the coverage of over-the-counter contraception at no cost to patients; and offering guidance to support seamless over-the-counter contraception coverage.
- Encourage the Medicaid program to provide family planning services and products. According to the Executive Order, the Secretary of HHS is required to take new initiatives into account that would broaden access to affordable family planning services and supplies throughout the Medicaid program, such as exchanging best practices with State Medicaid programs on how to provide high-quality family planning services and supplies, including through Medicaid managed care.
- Expand the Medicare Program’s coverage of contraception. The Executive Order instructs the Secretary of HHS to examine new actions to strengthen contraception coverage through Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans to improve coverage and payment for contraceptives for beneficiaries of Medicare. This move will contribute to removing needless barriers to accessing contraception for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly for women of reproductive age and with disabilities.
- In support of Federal Employees, Veterans, and Service Members Having Access to Contraceptives. According to the Executive Order, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management must consider new measures to ensure that Federal employees, Service members, and veterans receive comprehensive coverage and access to contraceptives and that they and their families are aware of how to take advantage of these benefits. These actions will build upon the initiatives that these organizations have already done to improve access to contraceptives for the people they serve.
- Support Employee and College Student Access to Contraceptives that are Affordable. The Executive Order mandates that the Secretary of Labor establish and disseminate best practices for businesses and insurers in providing employees with access to low-cost, high-quality contraception. The Executive Order instructs the Secretary of Education to gather institutions of higher education to exchange best practices and strategies for ensuring that students are aware of their options for obtaining contraceptives in order to support access for college and university students.
- Encourage data analysis and research on access to contraception. In order to document the gaps and disparities in access to contraceptives as well as the benefits of comprehensive coverage, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to support studies, data gathering, and data analysis on access to contraceptive and family planning services.