Illinois Second State in The Midwest to Allow Birth Control Over the Counter

Illinois Second State in The Midwest to Allow Birth Control Over the Counter

Illinoisans will have access to birth control over the counter as of the first of the year.

On Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law HB 135, which removes barriers to care that may have previously prevented residents from accessing hormonal contraception, including lack of access to a physician willing to prescribe birth control.

Pritzker signed the legislation, joined by healthcare providers and legislative leaders, during a news conference at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy.

HB 135 expands Medicaid to cover over-the-counter birth control costs for plans that currently cover physician prescribed birth control. Under the new law, pharmacists are required to receive training on how to counsel individuals on the variety of birth control options available to them.

Illinois is the second state in the Midwest to offer access to birth control over the counter.

“It’s simple: Birth control saves lives and prevents unplanned pregnancy. Family planning and reproductive health care is a personal choice that should not be limited by economic or social status,” said state Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake).

State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) described the legislation as important.

“Allowing pharmacists to dispense hormonal contraception under a standing order is a common-sense way to increase the number of trusted health care partners and increase access to convenient locations, reducing unnecessary barriers to timely and consistent use of products women need to self-determine when is the right time for them to become pregnant. Planned pregnancies have healthier outcomes for both mom and baby,” she said.

To ensure the price of contraception remains feasible, HB 0135 includes mandates for insurance policies regulated by the state to cover birth control that is dispensed by a pharmacist.

Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, said pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers that receive the most extensive training in proper use of medications.

“t makes sense to fully utilize pharmacists to expand access to ensure women are empowered in having access to effective, preventative options for contraception,” he said.

Dr. Michelle Brown, OB-GYN, Northwestern University said HB135 is a landmark piece of legislation.

“By increasing access to contraception for the women of Illinois, we reinforce our state as one that prioritizes women’s health,” she said. “Contraceptive access through pharmacists is key to allowing women to safely exercise authority over their reproductive lives, and by joining 16 other states in this initiative, we move one step closer to the goal of true over the counter contraception.”

HB 0135 is effective Jan. 1, 2022. Provisions effecting the Insurance Code are effective Jan. 1, 2023.

SOURCE: state of Illinois news release

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