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                                            Government Relations and Outreach

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Contraceptive Coverage

S 1200 Endorsement Letter

cc: Senator Harry Reid

May 26, 1999


The Honorable Olympia Snowe
2421 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Snowe:

On behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), an organization representing more than 39,000 physicians dedicated to improving womenís health care, I am writing to express our full support for the legislation you are introducing, the "Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 1999." By requiring insurers that offer prescription drug benefits to cover prescription contraceptives, your legislation will ensure that this important womenís health care benefit is treated equitably by insurance plans. Further, your legislation also would require coverage for outpatient contraceptive services, which are a critical component of womenís health care. The information and advice about contraception that women receive from their physicians are critical to ensuring effective use of contraceptives as well as to ensuring good reproductive health for women.

As womenís health care physicians, ACOG believes contraception is medically necessary to providing quality health care to women. A woman needs contraception to protect both her health and quality of life. Contraceptives afford a woman the opportunity to choose the number as well as the timing of her pregnancies. Most women can become pregnant from the time they are teenagers until they are in their late forties -- meaning a woman can become pregnant for thirty or more years. A woman cannot opt out of the need to control her fertility during the three decades prior to menopause without risking multiple pregnancies. For some women with serious medical conditions, controlling their fertility is a matter of life or death. In addition, appropriate timing between pregnancies and limitations on family size, as a result of the use of contraceptives, are closely related to improved infant and maternal health. According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, "infants conceived 18 to 23 months after a previous live birth had the lowest risks of adverse perinatal outcomes." For all of these reasons, access to contraceptives is critical in achieving healthy families, both in medical and economic terms.

The need to require equitable treatment of contraceptives by health insurers is clear. ACOG applauds your commitment to equity in womenís health care by ensuring that insurance plans treat prescription contraceptives the same as other prescription drugs. We look forward to working with you to achieve this important goal.
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Sincerely,

Ralph W. Hale, MD
Executive Vice President


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