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
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 approval.
“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 fees.
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
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