Reporters should find out why Gardner didn’t deliver on his promised legislation to “fix Obamacare” and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control
Last year, then U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner had a nice-sounding proposal: offer birth control over the counter, easy and quick.
But… more expensive, journalists pointed out, because under Obamacare, birth control prescribed by doctors is free. Insurance companies are required to cover it.
Not to worry, replied Gardner. He promised to fix an “obscure provision” in Obamacare and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control.
Women should “still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it,” Gardner told Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols Sept. 28 (at 15 seconds in the video). “That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.”
Women “will have an insurance policy that covers it,” Gardner promised a skeptical Stokols.
“We should change Obamacare to make sure that insurance can reimburse for that over-the-counter contraceptive purchase,” Gardner told reporter Lynn Bartels (at 50 seconds in the video) during The Denver Post debate against Democrat Mark Udall. Gardner even attacked Democrats, telling the Denver Post during the campaign: “If Democrats are serious about making oral contraception affordable and accessible,” Gardner wrote, “we can reverse that technical provision [in Obamacare].”
Once elected, however, Gardner didn’t deliver on his promise. He introduced a bill that simply offers incentives to drug companies to gain FDA approval to sell contraception over the counter.
Nothing in the bill mandates that insurance companies would be required to cover birth control that’s sold over the counter. Instead, the bill allows Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications. Those are savings accounts, with tax advantages, that individuals can set up. That’s not anything like insurance coverage.
News coverage of Gardner’s OTC bill has noted that women’s health groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have condemned the freshman senator’s proposal as insufficient and expensive for women. Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado’s statement that the bill is a “sham” has been duly noted.
But reporters have yet to spotlight the fact that Gardner did not deliver on the pledge he made during the campaign. The question is, why? Was he lying? Did he change his mind? Did he determine that his original promise was unworkable?
Reporters should find out.
Partial transcript of Sept. 28 Fox 31 interview with Cory Gardner:
Gardner (@ 15 seconds): We ought to talk about access. We ought to increase access to oral contraception. We ought to make it easier, 24-hours-a-day, around the clock availability. That’s why I’ve supported making it available over-the-counter without a prescription. We need to change the provision of Obamacare that would prohibit insurance to be paying for it. That’s an obscure provision. Those are the things we can do to make it easier to access.
Stokols: You say it’s cheaper that way. Politifact says that’s mostly false, that under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of women get their birth control for free.
Gardner: Well, they’d still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it. That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.
Stokols: How though, if you repeal Obamacare, about 27 percent of women, I believe, actually use the pill. So you make the pill available over the counter. Still, about three out of four women use another form of birth control. If you repeal Obamacare, what happens to their coverage?
Gardner: They will have an insurance policy that covers it.