Washington, DC –  Today, the Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) Co-Chairs Congresswomen Jackie Speier (CA-14), Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), and Vice Chairs Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chairs Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Diana DeGette (CO-01), and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) were joined by 133 of their colleagues in calling on Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to waive copays for contraceptives and designate  health care visits related to screening, counseling, insertion, removal, or maintenance of FDA-approved contraceptive devices as “preventive services” for servicemembers and military families.

Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans cover preventive services without cost sharing, including all Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptive methods, counseling, and related services, these protections do not apply to coverage through TRICARE. As a result, military families have fewer rights than those they serve to protect,” the Members wrote. “As you know, access to contraception and the ability to determine if and when to have children are inextricably tied to one’s health and wellbeing, equality, financial security, and control over one’s life. … Prioritizing access to contraception for servicemembers and their dependents is an investment in their health and wellbeing and an investment in the stability of our Armed Forces.”

“Given the urgency of the matter, we encourage you to waive contraceptive copays that fall under your authority and continue working with Congress to eliminate all cost sharing for contraception for servicemembers and military families,” the Members wrote. “Ensuring our servicemembers and their dependents receive basic health care services without cost barriers – just as civilians do – is the least we can do for these brave individuals who put their lives on the line in defense of our country and freedoms.”

Supporting organizations include National Women's Law Center, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Power to Decide, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and SWAN.

A copy of the letter can be found here.