November 07, 2019

Senators Warren and Duckworth Introduce Bill to Increase Veterans’ Access to Contraceptives

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Combat Veteran and SASC member, introduced the Access to Contraception Expansion for Veterans (ACE Veterans) Act, legislation that would increase access to contraceptives. The bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14).
The ACE Veterans Act would require providers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to inform patients of their option to request a full-year supply of contraception, rather than the standard three-month supply. According to an analysis of VA data, 64 percent of women veterans receiving hormonal contraceptives through the VA experience a gap in their birth control for at least seven days every year. Another study, released earlier this year, found that the VA could prevent nearly 600 unintended pregnancies annually by adjusting its dispensing of contraceptives to provide year-long supplies.
Earlier this year, Senator Warren called on the VA to change their policies and consider dispensing contraceptives in one-year supplies in order to address gaps in contraceptive care. In the letter, Senator Warren outlined the barriers veterans face in renewing contraceptive prescriptions, including inability to afford the co-pay, difficulty getting to a clinic, trouble accessing a pharmacy, and widespread sexual harassment at VA clinics. As the largest integrated health care system in the United States, the VA is uniquely suited to address this issue, especially as the number of women veterans it serves continues to grow.
“Our veterans deserve access to full reproductive health care, including contraception,” said Senator Warren. “By increasing awareness of the option to receive a full-year supply of contraception, this bill will help reduce gaps in coverage and improve health outcomes for veterans.”
Senator Warren is a strong advocate for women veterans. She also cosponsored the Deborah Sampson Act, which improves health care and services provided by the VA to women veterans, and successfully led an effort to require the VA to prioritize the expansion of a peer counseling program for women veterans. She recently introduced the Senate companion to a House resolution urging the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative postage stamp series honoring women veterans of the Armed Forces.