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Birth control access bills appear in committee

National Health Services

Bills to allow trained pharmacists to prescribe birth control methods, like contraceptive patches, received a hearing Tuesday before the Michigan House Health Policy Committee.

Representative Stephanie Young (D-Detroit) who co-sponsors the package, said the bills could help make up for a shortage of reproductive health care workers.

“These bills are crucial next steps to continue ensuring reproductive rights for all Michiganders. Having access to birth control is a big part of the right to choose and the right to act with autonomy,” Young said.

The legislation would require the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to develop rules around that system.

They would include a self-screening assessment for patients and special training for pharmacists before birth control can be prescribed at the pharmacy alone.

Representative Kathy Schmaltz (R-Jackson) said she has concerns about how the changes would affect patient safety.

“And that is a big concern, especially for younger people. So, I would like to take a look at this more to see what we can do to ensure more patient safety,” Schmaltz said near the end of Tuesday’s committee hearing.

The legislation would also require insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to cover a year's worth of birth control.

Dr. Sarah Wallett, Chief Medical Operating Officer with Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said many plans only offer one-month supplies.

“This is an unnecessary barrier that I hear from my patients from all of the time. That they have encountered a refill delay, that they have missed doses,” Wallett told the committee during testimony.

But Representative Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington) said he worries about possibly starting people out with a year-long supply of a drug.

“If somebody goes and immediately gets a 12-month supply and has an adverse effect, we’re dumping it down the drain and I just think that we’re not looking at the long term of what this is,” VanderWall said.

The bills remain in committee.

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