BOSTON– NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization, highlighted the Baker administration’s failure to meaningfully implement the 2017 Contraceptive ACCESS law, specifically the provision enabling eligible Bay Staters to receive a 12-month supply of birth control dispensed at once.
As reported by Sarah Betancourt of Commonwealth Magazine, widespread implementation issues have forced countless patients seeking a 12-month supply of birth control to jump through unnecessary hoops that send them back and forth between their health care provider, insurance company, pharmacy benefit manager, and pharmacist. The Baker administration is responsible for timely implementation of the ACCESS Law and their approach to the law’s implementation is lackadaisical, at best.
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance did not release any guidance on the 12-month supply provisions until August 2020, almost three years after the law’s passage. Moreover, per Commonwealth’s reporting, MassHealth officials claim that the ACCESS law does not apply to the program, despite the fact that Section 2 of the ACCESS Law applies directly to MassHealth. The lack of oversight and implementation by the Baker administration has made it nearly impossible for patients to get a 12-month supply of birth control. For many people, a 12-month supply of birth control is critical to ensuring there is no interruption in the method they choose to prevent unintended pregnancy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that people do not have to make unnecessary trips to the pharmacy to obtain birth control.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Rebecca Hart Holder held the Baker administration responsible for the implementation issues associated with the ACCESS law:
“When the ACCESS bill became law, there was universal agreement that it was intended to enable patients, for whom it is appropriate to receive a 12-month supply of birth control, to have it dispensed at once. Advocates and legislators alike were pleased with the Baker administration’s enthusiastic support for the law, but support is only half the battle. The Baker administration is responsible for ensuring timely implementation of the law and that all state health care agencies and Massachusetts-regulated plans comply with the law. It’s clear the administration has not lived up to its responsibility.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts has been working hard to raise awareness about the ACCESS Law and is actively working with patients to better understand the issues associated with its implementation. We encourage eligible Bay Staters who are interested in accessing a 12-month supply of birth control to fill out this survey so that we can work with you throughout this process and learn from your experience.