September 9, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) sent a letter today to Larry J. Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, to correct and provide remedies to consumers hurt by a coding error that charges women an illegal co-pay for generic contraceptives at CVS pharmacies.

“Charging a co-pay for generic prescription birth control is a violation of federal law, and that is exactly what was taking place” Congresswoman Speier said. “I worry that many women may not know their rights under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and may go without this essential family planning service guaranteed to them under law. We’ve already established through the ACA that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition when it comes to health insurance coverage. CVS Health needs to get to the bottom of how widespread these unlawful charges were, and make sure that all of the individuals who were charged are reimbursed.”

The ACA’s “Women’s Health Amendment,” or section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act, requires coverage of women’s health preventive services, including contraception, without cost sharing. The Women’s Health Amendment was put in place so that women could no longer be discriminated against for being women when accessing health insurance coverage. CVS Health representatives indicated these co-pays were the result of a drug price coding error across multiple insurance companies.

It’s ironic that CVS Health’s website states that charging a co-pay for generic contraceptive prescriptions is against company policy, so it’s doubly troubling that the practice is going on.

As Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements Subcommittee, Congresswoman Speier requested follow up information from Merlo, including an estimated timeline for when the coding error will be fully fixed.