Richard H. Hughes, IV, Member of the Firm, and Devon Minnick, Associate, in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, co-authored an article in HealthAffairs, titled “HRSA’s Confusing, Out-of-Date Guidance Undermines Contraceptive Coverage and Access.” Ada Peters, Summer Associate, also contributed to this article.

Following is an excerpt:

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision reversing the constitutional right to abortion has thrust contraceptive access into the spotlight. Dobbs has spurred new concerns over the legal right to access contraceptives. In response, the Biden administration has used its enforcement discretion to reinforce federal standards that help promote access to reproductive health care across the country. This includes recently issued guidance by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury (collectively, Departments) seeking to “make clear that contraceptive coverage is guaranteed at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), no matter where someone lives or works.”

However, a close review of the guidance and the history behind it show that the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirements are prone to misinterpretation by patients, providers, and plans when translated into practice and have failed to evolve and keep pace with new and innovative technologies over time. The ACA’s shortcomings are particularly concerning in the current moment when easy access to effective contraception is critical to individuals’ ability to exercise autonomy in wake of the Dobbs decision.

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