The California Senate Health Committee approved the bill last week. It is now pending in the state Senate Appropriations Committee.
The bill would bolster existing contraceptive coverage requirements under state law and the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). Under the measure, health plans would have to cover vasectomies and other male contraceptive methods without copayments or deductibles. The ACA's contraceptive coverage rules include a similar requirement for female contraceptives.
The federal law also permits insurers to use "reasonable medical management techniques" when deciding which methods to cover, but it does not define the techniques. State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D), author of SB 1053, said this has led to gaps and inconsistencies in coverage. The bill aims to ensure coverage without out-of-pocket costs for a full range of methods.
Mitchell said in a statement, "A woman's choice -- in consultation with her health care provider -- should determine her method of contraception," adding, "Medical management that creates barriers to particular methods deprives women of their reproductive freedom and increases the risk of unintended pregnancy."
The bill is co-sponsored by the California Family Health Council and the National Health Law Program.
According to the Business Journal, the California Catholic Conference, the California Association of Health Plans and the California Chamber of Commerce oppose the measure (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/6).