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Blumenthal & Collins Lead Bipartisan Senate Bill to Eliminate Copays for Veterans Accessing Contraception

Bill authored by U.S. Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA) passed the House with bipartisan support

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME) led a bipartisan group of twenty senators introducing the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act to eliminate copayments for contraception covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While civilians can receive contraception without a copay through the Affordable Care Act and active duty servicemembers can receive health care—including basic contraceptive services—without copays through TRICARE, VA healthcare only waives contraception copays for a limited number of veterans. The legislation is originally authored by U.S. Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA) and was approved by the House of Representatives in June by a bipartisan vote of 245-181.

“This legislation will end unfair copays charged to veterans accessing essential contraception,” said Blumenthal. “Providing these important family planning services to veterans without out-of-pocket costs – a right already afforded to their active duty and civilian counterparts – is necessary to protect their health, wellbeing and reproductive freedoms. With more women enrolling in the VA healthcare system and reproductive rights threatened across the country, this measure is more important than ever. I’m proud to lead my Senate colleagues in introducing the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act.”       

“Throughout my Senate service, I have worked to ensure that America’s veterans receive the benefits, resources, and recognition they earned through their service to our country,” said Collins. “Under current law, women can obtain contraception without a co-pay through private health insurance, but not through VA health care. Our bill would support women veterans—the fastest-growing segment of our veteran population—by closing this loophole and eliminating co-payments for contraception for those covered by VA health care.”   

Under current law, only a restricted group of veterans, including 50 percent disabled veterans and veterans below specific income levels, are exempt from copayments for contraception. This legislation will eliminate out-of-pocket costs levied against countless veterans, including women who make up the fastest growing group of veterans enrolling in the VA healthcare system.   

The Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“Choosing when, or if, to have a family is essential to women’s health and to their economic security. The Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act is another step toward ensuring all women have access to comprehensive contraceptive and reproductive health care,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “As Chairwoman of the Women Veterans Task Force, I am committed to identifying disparities in health care for women veterans and, where necessary, to introduce, advocate, and pass legislation that addresses those gaps. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, it is past time we ensure all veterans have equal access to the health care, including contraceptive care, they deserve. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Blumenthal and my colleagues in the Senate to pass this crucial legislation and send it on President Biden’s desk.”

The bill is also endorsed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Women's Health Network, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Academy of Nursing, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council of Jewish Women, National Women's Health Network, and the National Women's Law Center.

Text of the Senate and House bills can be found here and here.