August 02, 2022

Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Senate Bill to Eliminate Copays for Veterans Accessing Contraception

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

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in 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-Calif.) and was approved by the House of Representatives in June by a bipartisan vote of 245-181. 

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 in addition to Senator Van Hollen by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). 

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.