Ibis celebrates the Supreme Court's health care reform decision to improve women's health and lives

July 2012

July 2, 2012 – Ibis joins our colleagues in celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Several important provisions of the law addressing women’s health correct historic injustices in the private health insurance system and promise to expand access to critical reproductive health services for women and their families across the country. 

In particular, the requirement that insurance cover contraception with no co-pay will give women more options in choosing an effective method that works for them and will remove cost as a barrier. 

We at Ibis commit to working with our colleagues and partners to ensure that the ACA’s promise is realized and leads to better health care access and improved health outcomes for all Americans. There are a number of challenges that still must be addressed, including the potential gap in care for low-income Americans if states choose not to expand their Medicaid programs, as well as the lack of abortion coverage in the law. Research to monitor the impact of ACA implementation and advocacy to hold the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and our elected officials accountable are more important than ever.   

We also hope that the new ACA framework will support innovations to push the envelope around access even further. Starting in August, insurance companies will be required to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, including over-the-counter methods. Current guidance stipulates that a prescription will be required for OTC methods like condoms and spermicide. We at Ibis urge HHS and insurance companies to consider alternative reimbursement “triggers” to the prescription so that a doctor’s visit does not stand in the way of easy and affordable access to OTC contraception.  

Another way to expand access would be to move oral contraceptives over the counter. OCs are safe and meet the FDA criteria for an OTC drug, and the prescription requirement is an unnecessary impediment to access. 

Improving access to a wider range of contraceptive methods and reducing out-of-pocket costs has the potential to increase the number of women who start and continue use of contraception, helping to reduce unintended pregnancy and improve the lives and health of women and their families. The ACA is an exciting next step on the path to universal contraceptive access in the US.