- June 9 - Following is a statement by Gloria Feldt, president, Planned Parenthood
Federation of America:
Health plans must stop denying
coverage for the everyday health care that most women need for significant portions
of their lives -- prescription birth control methods. American women deserve an
end to outdated discriminatory practices. This should be the year that EPICC (the
Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act) becomes law.
There are no good reasons
to oppose EPICC -- only political excuses. We can no longer afford a style of
politics that creates abortion battles over almost every piece of legislation,
while refusing votes on bills that would help women prevent the need for abortion
in the first place.
Preventing unintended pregnancy
is the one thing most everyone agrees on, regardless of feelings about abortion.
Americans are frustrated by Washington's partisan battling and punitive attitudes.
Passing EPICC would represent a solid first step toward the kind of common ground
approach most Americans yearn for.
Contraceptive coverage is
a matter of simple fairness and common sense, with support for it cutting across
all political lines. A poll taken for Planned Parenthood Federation of America
by Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates in October found:
-- Almost 75 percent of
Americans surveyed supported requiring health insurance policies to cover contraceptives
just as they do other prescription drugs;
-- More than 80 percent
of pro-choice voters, independents, and Democrats supported contraceptive coverage;
-- 56 percent of Republicans
and 57 percent of voters identifying themselves as "pro-life" supported contraceptive
The FDA approval of Viagra
and its almost instantaneous insurance coverage exposed the discrimination women
face from insurers. This discrimination has left women of reproductive age with
68 percent higher out-of-pocket medical costs than men.
Last year brought some progress
at the federal level. Through the work of Rep. Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Senators Snowe
(R-Maine) and Reid (D-Nev.), we gained contraceptive coverage for federal employees.
We are also seeing a groundswell of support for contraceptive coverage in the
states. In 1998, Maryland was the first state to enact contraceptive coverage.
This year, we have seen laws pass in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada
and Vermont and expect passage in California and North Carolina as well. In total,
legislation has been introduced in 34 states.
More Americans are making
responsible choices and reducing our rate of unintended pregnancy. Americans want
this to be the year that the Congress makes the responsible choice on contraceptive
coverage. We thank Sens. Snowe (R-Maine) and Reid (D-Nev.), and Reps. Greenwood
(R-Pa.) and Lowey (D-N.Y.) for their inspired leadership on this issue.