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Shaheen Leads Bicameral, Bipartisan Comprehensive Bill to Ensure Quality Reproductive Care for Military Families

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congresswomen Jackie Speier (CA-14), Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) introduced their bipartisan bill, the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act, to ensure military families receive the quality reproductive health care they deserve.

The bill would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that those who receive health care through the military have access to all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with no health insurance co-pay. The legislation would also guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request and require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program.

“Access to reproductive health services is essential to comprehensive health care. U.S. service members deserve the same quality of care as the civilians they fight to protect,” said Shaheen. “It’s unacceptable that some members of our military and their family members are saddled with out-of-pocket expenses for contraception, while patients in the commercial insurance market are guaranteed access to contraception without cost-sharing. Removing these barriers and ensuring reproductive care is available to our military families upholds our commitment to provide them quality, comprehensive services and also is an investment in our military readiness. We owe them the best for their service and sacrifice for our nation.”

The Department of Defense provides health care to nearly 1.6 million women of reproductive age, including service members, guardsmen, reservists, spouses and dependents. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans cover preventive services without cost sharing, including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, counseling and related services, these protections do not apply to coverage through TRICARE, a health care program for uniformed service members and their families. Due to this disparity, non-active duty service members and dependents of service members are particularly impacted.

The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would:

  • Require that all people enrolled in TRICARE have coverage of contraceptives without cost-sharing, the same as civilians;
  • Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all service members, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed decisions; and
  • Guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) also cosponsored Senator Shaheen’s bill.

You can read the full bill text here.

The bill has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including: the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Power to Decide and Service Women's Action Network.