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Press Release

July 9, 2018

Contact: Richard Loconte, 212-709-1691

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES NEW ACTIONS TO PROTECT REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN FACE OF FEDERAL ASSAULT

Governor Directs Department of Financial Services to Require Health Insurers to Cover Emergency Contraception, Over the Counter and 12 Months of Contraception Without Cost-Sharing

Ahead of Supreme Court Nomination, Governor Calls on Senate to Reconvene and Vote on Codifying Roe v. Wade into State Law

Builds Upon the 2018 Women's Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new actions to protect reproductive rights as the federal government is poised to nominate an extreme conservative Supreme Court Justice who could roll back advancements in reproductive health care. Through regulations by the Department of Financial Services and Department of Health, New York State will ensure an insurer must cover over the counter emergency contraception in addition to all other contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and, as well as the dispensing of 12 months of contraceptive at one time, all without co-insurance, co-pays or deductibles.

The Governor today also called on the Senate to reconvene and vote on codifying the protections of Roe. v. Wade into State law. The Assembly has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years, including during the 2018 Legislative Session. Today's actions builds on Governor Cuomo's 2018 Women's Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.

"In the face of this federal assault, New York is going to protect itself because this state has always been the progressive capital of the nation," Governor Cuomo said. "This is the time to fight back. This is the time to resist. This is the time to make your voice heard. This is the time where every New Yorker has to say, you're not taking women's right to reproductive rights away. We're going to protect ourselves because this is the state that has always stood up for what's right."

Regulatory Action

The updated DFS regulation mandates that health insurers:

  • Expand coverage requirements for contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Require coverage for emergency contraception with no cost sharing when acquired in any lawful manner including on an over the counter basis from an out of network pharmacy;
  • Permit a woman to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, removing the previously required three-month trial period;
  • Cover voluntary sterilization procedures for women and over-the-counter contraceptives without cost-sharing; and
  • Do not place restrictions or delays on contraceptive coverage not otherwise authorized under the regulation.  This provision would prohibit quantity limits and other such restrictions.

The regulation codifies guidance issued in January 2017 regarding information that must be provided in formularies regarding contraceptives, including noting which contraceptives are covered without cost-sharing.  Insurers will be required to publish an easily accessible, up-to-date, accurate and complete list of all covered contraceptive drugs, devices and other products on their formulary drug lists, including any tiering structure and any restrictions on the manner in which a drug may be obtained.

The accompanying DOH regulations permit a woman insured through Medicaid to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, whereas previously, the limit was three months.

A copy of the proposed regulations can be found here.

"I lost my seat in Congress over my steadfast support of the Affordable Care Act and the contraception mandate, and I know how critically important it is to protect these rights at the state level," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's event. "That is why I stand with the Governor and the women of this great state in fighting back to ensure protections and safety for women when it comes to their reproductive health. Given all that is happening in Washington, these actions will protect women's reproductive rights. As President of the State Senate, I'm also calling on Senate Republican leadership to protect the women of this state and pass the Reproductive Health Act and codify Roe v. Wade. No one should tell us what to do with our bodies. Not now, not ever."

"Contraception has been a critical means for women to gain economic and social independence," said Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo.  "Reproductive choice is a fundamental right and New York will not tolerate any impediments or impairments of that right. DFS will take all necessary actions to ensure that insurers cover contraceptives and voluntary sterilization with no copayments, deductibles or any out-of-pocket costs and ensure that New York continues to lead the nation in championing women's rights and access to reproductive healthcare."

"The regulations announced today demonstrate once again Governor Cuomo's commitment to protecting and expanding women's rights in health care," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. "Family planning is an essential part of overall wellness, and that must include unfettered access to birth control and the ability for each woman to choose how she receives it."

Legislative Action

Governor Cuomo is calling on the Senate to reconvene to vote to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State Law. For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into State law to secure women's access to reproductive health options. Governor is again calling for the passage of legislation to ensure the right of women to make personal health care decisions to protect their health in addition to their life and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said, "Governor Cuomo is taking swift and appropriate action to preserve and support health care services for women in New York. The federal government's attempt to set back women's rights and erode the progress made will not be tolerated. We will take all steps necessary to protect reproductive rights in this great state."

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Women's rights are under attack. Another Trump-appointed Justice will guarantee an ultra-conservative Court that is even more hostile to women's health care protections. This will have dire consequences if we don't act because New York decriminalized abortion before the Roe v. Wade decision. The women of New York State are looking to us to protect their hard-won rights, and we must not fail them."

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The administration in Washington is preparing yet another assault on women's reproductive rights with the nomination of an ultra-conservative Supreme Court justice. Earlier this year, and in countless previous legislative sessions, the New York State Assembly passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. Year after year, our Republican colleagues in the Senate neglect to pass this legislation, insisting there is no threat to Roe v. Wade. Their inaction has shamefully put women's reproductive health care in jeopardy. It's time to codify Roe v. Wade. No more excuses."

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said, "The assault by the Trump Administration against women's health care goes against our beliefs as New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo's actions ensure women will continue to receive the full range of health care options they deserve. New York will continue to fight against regressive politics and serve as a beacon for women's rights."

Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said, "The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that millions of women across America lose essential access to the health care they absolutely require. We are facing an unprecedented attack on our health care, and rights by a federal government determined to replace evidence-based medically accurate public policy with politically driven ideology. Governor Cuomo is standing up today to remind the nation that New York won't go backwards; we won't sit back quietly as our rights evaporate and we will resist this dismantling of our constitutionally protected rights."

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