Sen. Reid Press Release


July 21, 2000

WASHINGTON Federal employees will continue receiving prescription contraceptive coverage under a provision authored by U.S. Senator Harry Reid in S. 2900, the FY 2001 Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill.

"Women deserve to be treated fairly when it comes to health care coverage. It's unconscionable that a man can receive coverage for Viagra but a woman can't get coverage for such a fundamental health care need as contraception," said Senator Reid. "I do not believe women should have to pay more out-of-pocket for health care expenses because their insurer doesn't cover prescription contraceptives. Studies have shown that women pay, on average, 68% more for their health care than do men."

Reid's provision comes in the wake of two high profile developments on the issue. The first is a class action lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, on behalf of a pharmacist and drugstore employees in Washington state, asserting that the exclusion of contraceptive coverage discriminates against women. The other is a move by the District of Columbia City Council to mandate health coverage for contraceptives. Included in Reid's provision is a "conscience clause" allowing federal health plans to exempt coverage for those who object due to religious reasons.

"Close to half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended and 44% of these end in abortion," Reid said. "Contraceptives help couples plan for pregnancy and they reduce the need for abortions. Whether they are covered by federal health plans or the entire health care industry, parity in coverage will result in healthier women and fewer abortions."

In addition to his efforts to cover federal employees, Senator Reid is also a co-sponsor of
S. 1200, the Equity in Prescription Contraceptive Coverage Act. Under the bill, all insurance providers who offer prescription drug coverage would also be required to cover the cost of approved contraceptives.

The bill was reported by the Treasury-Postal appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, July 20 and will be marked up by the full committee next week. A similar provision was included in the House legislation.

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