(Washington, DC) – Today, at the bill signing for the Defending Access to Women's Health Care Services Amendment Act of 2018, Mayor Bowser announced that open enrollment for District residents has been extended through Monday, February 5, 2018 at 11:59 pm. Residents now have through Monday, February 5 to go to DCHealthLink.com to shop for, compare, and enroll in affordable, high-quality insurance plans.
“Preventive care saves lives and reduces health care costs,” said Mayor Bowser. “From extending open enrollment to creating forward-thinking legislation that keeps Washingtonians safe from detrimental health care reforms, in Washington, DC, we are committed to ensuring all residents are able to get the care and services they need to thrive and get on pathways to the middle class. Over the next five days, we are asking the entire community to work with us to ensure all your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors get covered and stay covered.”
The Defending Access to Women's Health Care Services Amendment Act of 2018, written by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and passed unanimously by the Council earlier this month, requires insurance providers to provide coverage for preventive health care services and products without imposing any cost-sharing requirements, ensuring women in Washington, DC continue to have access to the care they need. The legislation comes in the wake of multiple attempts by the federal government to repeal and replace or to otherwise undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Currently, the services and products protected by the Defending Access to Women’s Health Care Services Amendment Act of 2018 are required by ACA guidelines. Should these ACA guidelines change, the District’s new legislation ensures that the services and products will still be covered for women in Washington, DC, where approximately 96 percent of residents are covered by health insurance.
“Today, the District of Columbia stands united as Mayor Bowser signs a bill passed unanimously by the Council to defend women’s access to basic and critical health care services under the Affordable Care Act. The bill goes even further in expanding access by allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense certain forms of birth control directly – a smart change to make it easier to obtain and re-fill birth control conveniently. These benefits will be readily available and covered at no cost,” said Councilmember Allen. “We know the current White House and Congress don’t care if a woman is forced to pay more or go without basic health care because she can’t afford it. Here in the District of Columbia, today’s signing ensures we’re not going backward. I am incredibly proud to have moved this through the Council with my colleagues, and for the support and partnership with so many of our healthcare providers.”
The Defending Access to Women’s Health Care Services Amendment Act of 2018 also requires insurance providers and health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the D.C. Healthcare Alliance to provide coverage for, without imposing any cost-sharing requirements, contraceptives, including over-the-counter contraceptives and contraceptives prescribed and dispensed by a pharmacist. The law also allows pharmacists to prescribe birth control, which is currently allowed in seven other states, and it meets federal requirements for providing certain employers with a religious exemption from or accommodation for contraceptive products and services.
“Today is a good day. While at the federal level, and in many states across the country, we have seen a rollback of reproductive rights, here in DC, we are moving forward. Any measure that helps reduce unintended pregnancy and gives women more options to access birth control is good for women, good for business and good for the health of the District of Columbia,” said Dr. Laura Meyers, President and CEO Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC Action Fund.
Mayor Bowser was joined at the bill signing, which took place at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC, by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Dr. Laura Meyers, President and CEO at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC Action Fund, and Dr. Serina Floyd, Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC.