February 15, 2017

Effort to require contraceptive coverage clears committee

A bill aimed at requiring health insurance providers to include contraception coverage passed its first committee Wednesday morning.

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the measure 5-1. Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena, said she voted against the measure for only out of concern for insurance companies and any compliance issues they may have.

Three lobbyists for health insurance companies opposed the bill during public comment, citing provisions that would allow individuals to get 12 months worth of contraception at once and allowing over-the-counter contraception like condoms being made available through health insurance.

Lobbyist Brent Moore, one of the three lobbyists, addressed head on that two of the three were men.

“It’s not lost on me,” Moore said.

Moore and the other two lobbyists said they supported provisions to expand provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act to state law, but that they were not sure how insurance companies could successfully cover over-the-counter contraception.

Most of the public comment was in support of the bill and came from reproductive rights advocates.

Former Miss New Mexico USA Naomi Germain told the committee of her busy schedule last year and how often she was unable to get to the pharmacy while it was open and pick up her prescribed contraception. She said her doctor mistakenly assumed it simply wasn’t convenient for Germain.

“It really is a matter of taking it the right way and taking it for the right reasons,” Germain said.

Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, sponsored the bill and was joined by her daughter Erin Armstrong, a lawyer for the New Mexico ACLU, as her expert witness.

Rep. Armstrong said she is sponsoring the bill out of concern for what will happen to the federal ACA.

“Access to contraception is in the Affordable Care Act, however I worry about what is going to happen with the Affordable Care Act,” Debbie Armstrong said.