August 04, 2022

Hirono Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Eliminate Copays for Veterans Accessing Contraception

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and 17 of their Senate colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act to eliminate copayments for contraception covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While civilians can receive contraception without a copay through the Affordable Care Act and active duty servicemembers can receive health care—including basic contraceptive services—without copays through TRICARE, VA healthcare only waives contraception copays for a limited number of veterans. The legislation is originally authored by U.S. Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA) and was approved by the House of Representatives in June by a bipartisan vote of 245-181.

“Access to contraception is a fundamental, constitutional right,” said Senator Hirono. “But while civilians and active duty servicemembers can access contraception free of charge, hundreds of thousands of veterans receiving VA care are still forced to pay out-of-pocket costs. We owe it to our veterans to ensure they receive the quality, comprehensive health care they deserve, including contraception.  The Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act will help do exactly that.”

Under current law, only a restricted group of veterans, including 50 percent disabled veterans and veterans below specific income levels, are exempt from copayments for contraception. This legislation will eliminate out-of-pocket costs levied against countless veterans, including women who make up the fastest growing group of veterans enrolling in the VA healthcare system.   

The Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the legislation is available here.

As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Hirono is committed to supporting our nation’s veterans and enabling access to reproductive health care and contraception. Last month, she called upon the Department of Veterans Affairs to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents. Senator Hirono also introduced the Right to Contraception Act to codify the fundamental and constitutional right to contraception. In June, she introduced the Affordability is Access Act to help ensure that people across the country can access and afford over-the-counter birth control options and plan their own reproductive lives, on their own terms.

###