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State demands health insurers comply with birth control law

New York Attorney General Letitia James tells several

New York Attorney General Letitia James tells several insurance companies that they are out of compliance. Credit: Howard Schnapp

State Attorney General Letitia James is demanding health insurers comply with a recently enacted state law requiring them to provide members with up to a year’s supply of birth control at one time.

Doing so could protect New Yorkers who have lost their jobs, and with them their health insurance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. It also limits trips to the pharmacy while people are asked to practice social distancing.

"With more than one million New Yorkers losing their jobs, and with it their health insurance, it's critically important that women are able to fill their birth control prescriptions for the full duration allowed under the law,” James said in a statement. “Insurance companies must comply with the law and permit women to get up to a year's supply of birth control. During this crisis and beyond, I will continue to fight to protect New Yorkers' health care and their rights."

The state Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, which went into effect in January, codifies cost-free contraceptive coverage requirements under the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act regardless of potential changes at the federal level.

The new state law also allows 12 months of birth control to be dispensed at one time.

James’ office received multiple complaints that Aetna, MetroPlus Health, and Oscar Health have refused to provide coverage for 12-month supplies to patients. The attorney general sent letters to the three companies stressing the importance of adhering to the law, especially during the pandemic.

An Oscar Health representative said the company had made adjustments to comply with the state law.

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"We are looking into the Attorney General's inquiry to better understand exactly what triggered these complaints and will make any adjustments needed to ensure our members receive the supply of contraceptives that they need," spokeswoman Jackie Kahn said.

Representatives of Aetna and MetroPlus Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

James encourages anyone who has been denied this coverage by their health insurance plan or pharmacy or who believes they are being wrongfully denied other care to report it through the attorney general office's online health care complaint form or by calling 800-428-9071.

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