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Kaine & Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide Quality Reproductive Health Care to Military Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in reintroducing the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure military families receive the quality reproductive health care they deserve. The legislation would ensure servicemembers and their families who receive health care through TRICARE have access to contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with no health insurance co-pay, just like Americans who receive care through other insurers. The legislation would also guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request and require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program.

“Our servicemembers and their families deserve access to high quality, comprehensive health care—including contraceptives,” said Kaine. “This bill is a commonsense step to help make that goal a reality.”

The Department of Defense provides health care to millions of women of reproductive age, including servicemembers, guardsmen, reservists, spouses, and dependents. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans cover preventive services for civilians without cost sharing, including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, counseling, and related services, these protections do not apply to coverage through TRICARE, a health care program for uniformed servicemembers and their families. Due to this disparity, active duty servicemembers and dependents of servicemembers do not have access to the full range of care they need.

The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would:

  • Require that all people enrolled in TRICARE have coverage of contraceptives without cost-sharing, the same as civilians;
  • Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all servicemembers, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed decisions; and
  • Guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request.

In addition to Kaine and Shaheen, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Kaine has long supported military families and efforts to protect reproductive rights. In February, Kaine introduced the Reproductive Freedom For All Act, bipartisan legislation that would codify the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade and related cases, protecting women’s rights to access abortion and contraception. Kaine has also introduced legislation to eliminate copayments for contraception covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Full text of the legislation is available here.