CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE: Wilson Vetoes Legislation
"For the third time in three years," California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) vetoed a bill that would have required all state health plans that pay for prescription drugs to also cover birth control pills and other contraceptives. Wilson's veto rested on a provision that would have allowed employees covered by certain religious organizations "who earn up to 400% of the poverty level the right to seek a [state] voucher ... to cover the cost of contraceptives" (Sacramento Bee, 9/12). This provision would have made state-financed coverage available to "well-off families" earning up to $65,800 a year. In his veto message, Wilson said, "Having advocated contraceptive services for the poor for years, I am disappointed and frankly disgusted that a bill that could have so easily served as a vehicle to provide such services was needlessly burdened with so inappropriate a requirement" (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 9/13). The Sacramento Bee reports that Wilson vetoed a similar bill last February on the grounds that it did not contain "an exemption for religious organizations that object to providing birth control services for their workers." In an effort to secure the governor's support, bill author state Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D) "added the exemption in the new version, AB 1112." Hertzberg and his cosponsors said that while HMOs generally cover prescription birth control, "most individual insurers and alternate group policies do not." That practice forces women in California to pay "about $300 a year for birth control pills, even though their health plans cover other types of obstetric care, often including abortions and sterilization" (Sacramento Bee, 9/12). Click here to read past CHL coverage of this issue.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.