Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: August 5, 2011
Sen. Johnson praises Obama administration
for change in birth control coverage
State Sen. Constance
N. Johnson praised President Obama’s administration this
week for transforming women’s health care in America by classifying
birth control as preventative care – an issue the Oklahoma
County democrat has been advocating since getting into office.
The Institute of Medicine medical advisory panel recommended the
changes to the Health and Human Services Department last month.
The panel said contraceptives should qualify as preventive care,
which insurers must fully cover under Obama’s federal health
care reform plan.
“This is a common sense issue, and one I’ve fought for
over the years. Statistics show that nearly half of all pregnancies
in the U.S. are unintended, and about 40 percent of unwanted pregnancies
end in abortion,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. “If
women had access to more affordable or free birth control, we would
see a decrease in abortions, teen pregnancy as well as unintended
and unwanted pregnancies in adults, which many times lead to cases
of neglected and abused children.”
Johnson authored Senate Bill 494 in 2009 to require coverage for
contraception. The bill was not given a hearing in the Senate Retirement
and Insurance Committee. That same year, she sponsored an amendment
to House Bill 1595 with the same language, but the measure was killed
as well. Senate Bills 495 (2009) and 1459 (2008) also called for
insurance coverage of birth control, but also failed to receive
“It’s been a challenging process because we have spent
a lot of time in the legislature debating abortion and women’s
rights when we should have been focusing on providing better access
to preventive care,” said Johnson.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, state legislatures across
the nation introduced more than 900 bills this year dealing with
reproductive health. The Institute reported that the measures this
year are “more hostile to abortion rights” than in the
past citing that 56 percent of the bills introduced sought to restrict
abortion access compared with 38 percent last year. The Institute
found that in many states the three top agenda items were insurance
coverage limitations for abortion, restriction of abortion after
a specific point in gestation, and ultrasound requirements. In contrast,
there were few bills proposing proactive initiatives to expand access
to reproductive health-related services such as insurance coverage
for birth control.
“Instead of taking women’s rights away, this option
will help them better manage their families and not worry about
unintended pregnancies,” said Johnson. “Having contraceptives
deemed as preventive care will be a win-win for everyone. It will
not only save women a significant amount of money each year, it
will also save our national and state budgets through lowered welfare
costs and other government-sponsored child and family care services.”
An estimated 15.3 million women in the U.S. use hormonal birth control,
which is one of the most frequently-prescribed medications in America.
Women can spend anywhere from $15 to over $60 a month ($180 to over
$720 a year) for birth control pills plus annual doctor’s
According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly every $1 invested
in family planning services saves the government around $4 in the
potential costs of unintended pregnancies.
A recent national poll found that 78 percent of Americans support
government-subsidized birth control.
The women’s prevention package will be available January 1,
2013. Other preventive services that will be covered besides birth
control will be one preventive care visit per year, screening for
diabetes during pregnancy, screening for the virus that causes cervical
cancer for women 30 and older, annual HIV counseling and screening
for sexually active women, screening for and counseling about domestic
violence, and breast pumps for new mothers.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Johnson: (405) 521-5531