Proposed cut in contraceptive coverage may not affect feds

The Bush administration's proposal to end a requirement that health insurance firms offer birth control coverage to federal employees probably won't have a significant impact, federal officials say. In President Bush's 2002 budget released Monday, he proposed scrapping a law that requires insurance coverage for a broad range of contraceptives for employees under federal health plans, including the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan. The law currently covers 1.2 million female federal employees of reproductive age. But an Office of Personnel Management official said Thursday that since covering the costs of contraceptives does not significantly affect insurance providers' bottom line, most providers will likely continue to offer employees a broad range of contraceptive options, in order to remain competitive in the market. A provision of the 1998 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill required all federal employee health plans to pay for five types of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including: the pill, Norplant, Depo-Provera, the intrauterine device (IUD), and the diaphragm. Prior to 1998, most providers covered only one form of birth control. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said that before the legislation was passed, many insurance carriers were not covering birth control costs at all, or only covered one form of contraception. He said having only one option is not enough. "Many women can't use certain types of contraceptives, based on their medical situations. Women need a broader choice when it comes to birth control," Moran said. Moran said he feared insurance carriers would go back to covering only one form of birth control without the 1998 legislation. "I think Congress is going to fight this proposal. The inequity of some plans covering Viagra and not contraceptives is just discriminatory," said Moran.
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