New York will require insurers in the state to provide free access to contraceptives and medically necessary abortions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Jan. 21. This announcement comes as a direct rebuke to the current scrutiny the Affordable Care Act is under, as well as reaffirms Cuomo’s commitment to women’s rights, serving as the next step in Cuomo’s “New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward” campaign.
Insurers will be required to cover an initial supply of contraceptive drugs and devices for free for the first three months after a woman is prescribed it and then a 12-month supply after that time period. Under the current law, only a one-month supply is available for women. As with the ACA, currently not all contraceptives will be free, but insurers would have to provide one of each type of contraceptive method that the Food and Drug Administration has approved. This will include birth control pills, diaphragms, emergency contraception and intrauterine devices. All medically necessary abortions will also be covered under the new regulations, without the need of coinsurance, co-pays or deductibles.
Congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal the ACA, which requires insurance agencies to provide coverage for most contraceptive methods, spurred Cuomo into enacting this new legislation.
“Women deserve to make a fair wage and the same salary as any man, they deserve to work in an office free of sexual harassment, they deserve comprehensive paid family leave, and they deserve control over their health and reproductive decisions,” Cuomo said in a statement about the new legislation on his website. “These regulatory actions will help ensure that whatever happens at the federal level, women in our state will have cost-free access to reproductive health care and we hope these actions serve as a model for equality across the nation.”
Though Cuomo has had difficulties enacting legislation in the past due to a Republican-dominated State Senate, for this particular law, Cuomo will be able to pass it through unimpeded. The announcement of the legislation coincided with the women’s marches protesting President Donald Trump that took place across the nation, as well as the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States.
One of the affected groups of Cuomo’s new policy will be college-aged New Yorkers. Two Baruch College students, Denisha Deonarine and Neevetha Nadarajah, have positive thoughts on the strengthening of the insurance regulations.
“I honestly think it’s a great idea—what [Cuomo is] doing—because … a lot of people are afraid of what could happen—not just women, but people of color, transgender people, LGBTQ people. But [the new legislation] definitely makes me feel, as a woman, safer … It makes me feel safe that I have the rights that I deserve,” said Deonarine, a finance major.
Nadarajah, a psychology and business communication major, mentioned the prospect of more people who require birth control being tempted to move to New York as they would have greater access to contraceptives than in other states.
“New York is a considerably liberal state … so I think that people that require birth control from down South or anywhere where the policies are more strict would definitely come to New York [for coverage].”
New York’s health care exchange insures around 3.3 million people. Though the state runs the exchange independently, it is heavily subsidized by the federal government.
Religious organizations and employers that oppose abortion will not have to offer employees insurance plans that would cover abortions. However, employees of such organizations may purchase a “rider,” or an optional add-on to their policy from their insurer, or receive their insurance from a different source entirely.