Norton to Defend D.C. Bill Requiring Health Plans to Cover Contraceptives from Congressional Interference
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said she would vigorously defend from congressional interference a bill passed by the District of Columbia Council today that requires health plans to provide coverage for preventive health services for women, including contraceptives.
“The D.C. Council developed this legislation to require health plans in D.C. to cover preventive health services for women, including contraceptives, with the recent Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” Norton said. “I am still working here in Congress to keep the ACA intact, as we did last month when House Republicans pulled their replacement bill. It would be beyond ironic if Republicans tried to block D.C.’s contraceptive mandate after already blocking D.C. from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women. Twenty eight states have laws requiring insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to cover contraceptives. There is no justification for Republicans to single out the District for unique, undemocratic treatment. We have thus far defeated Republican efforts to block D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, and we plan to defeat any efforts to block the contraceptive mandate.”
Currently, federal regulations promulgated under the ACA require most health plans to cover contraceptives, among other preventive services for women. The contraceptive mandate was challenged in court, and the U.S. Supreme Court held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which applies to the federal government and the District of Columbia government, but not state governments, prohibits the contraceptive mandate from being enforced at least against closely held private companies.
Last Congress, Republicans tried on several occasions to block D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, their spouses and dependents based on their reproductive health decisions. The House passed a disapproval resolution to nullify the bill but the Senate did not take up the disapproval resolution. The House’s fiscal year 2017 D.C. spending bill would have prohibited D.C. from using its local funds to enforce RHDNA. The Senate did not take up the spending bill. The current fiscal year 2017 continuing resolution blocks D.C. from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women.