Walker’s budget repeals WI law requiring health insurers cover birth control

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, March 4, 2011 9:35 EDT
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WASHINGTON – A provision in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) revised two-year budget proposal released Tuesday would repeal a state law requiring health insurers to cover prescription birth control.

The controversial anti-union proposal would also repeal the Contraceptive Equity law, which establishes birth control as a necessity for insurers to cover rather than “optional care.” First introduced in 1999, it was enacted in 2009 under Gov. Jim Doyle (D). It took effect January 1, 2010.

“We have obviously seen over the last several weeks that Governor Walker has no respect for the basic rights of Wisconsinites,” said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Now, he continues his assault on women and families by denying them life-saving health care and taking away their rights to be treated fairly in insurance coverage.”

Walker argued in his budget summary (pdf) that the law comprises an “unacceptable government mandate on employers with moral objections to these services,” and it “increases the cost of health insurance for all payers.”

Atkinson said it was “morally reprehensible” to strip the mandate on birth control coverage when other prescriptions, like Viagra, are covered. And doing so, she argued, would increase health care costs for women.

Walker’s budget also proposes to strip family planning funds under Title V Maternal and Child Health program, which Planned Parenthood describes as “provides critical health care services to uninsured women and men including cervical cancer screens, prostate cancer screenings,” and other services.

Lisa Subeck, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, accused Walker of launching an “all out assault on reproductive health care” and “allowing insurers to discriminate against women and by eliminating critical reproductive health services.”

Walker’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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