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Michigan Democrats push to expand birth control access, boost supplies

African american woman holding birth control pills sitting on bed at bedroom
Michigan lawmakers are considering three bills to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control and require insurers to cover a full year’s supply of pills at one time. (Shutterstock)
  • Lawmakers are weighing considered legislation to expand birth control options
  • The bills would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, require insurers to cover a 12-month supply 
  • Some Republicans worry about patient safety

A day after over-the-counter birth control pills began shipping across the country, Michigan lawmakers considered several bills that would make contraception even easier to obtain.

One set of bills would authorize pharmacists to prescribe and dispense the contraceptives, including birth control pills, patches or other means— and require insurance policies to cover the costs.


A related bill would make insurers cover a 12-month prescription of birth control, rather than requiring patients to visit a pharmacy once a month.

“It is often a struggle for working people to find time in their busy schedules to make monthly trips to the pharmacy to pick up a medication that they rely on,” said state Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, who is sponsoring the supply bill.


At least two dozen other states require insurers to cover extended supplies, she said. Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, insurance companies are required to provide birth control at no cost to patients.

Lawmakers in the House Committee on Health Policy began debate the bills one day after the non-prescription birth control pill began shipping nationwide, the product of the Michigan-based drugmaker Perrigo.  

Opill likely will cost about $20 a month or $50 for a three-month supply,

Michigan’s Medicaid plan will cover the cost of Opill later this year, Chelsea Wuth, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told Bridge Michigan.

The Michigan bills will further access and affordability of other birth control options, supporters testified Tuesday.

“These bills are crucial next steps to continue ensuring reproductive rights for all Michiganders. Having access to birth control is a big part of the right to choose, and the right to act with autonomy,” said Rep. Stephanie Young, D-Detroit, who is among the bills’ sponsors.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Michigan Pharmacists Association support the legislation to expand prescription authority.

“Pharmacists are capable and experts at providing medications. Patients are capable of using self-screening tools to determine their eligibility and the safety of using various methods,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical operating officer.

During the hearing, several Republicans pressed about patient safety and costs to insurers.

Rep. Graham Filler, R., Duplain Township, asked whether pharmacists would be trained to consider a client’s family history. Rep. Jamie Thompson, R-Brownstown, pressed Wallett about blood tests and other screening tools before prescribing contraceptives.

A licensed practical nurse, Thompson said her experience is that patients who want birth control undergo blood testing to screen for health conditions that birth control could exacerbate.

Rep. Curt VanderWall, R, Ludington, asked about costs.


“If somebody goes in and immediately gets 12 months supply, and they have an adverse effect (to the drugs), we're dumping (the prescription) down the drain,” he said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, supports expanded prescribing practices. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade and struck down federal protections for abortion, the Whitmer administration sent emails to pharmacists emphasizing their ability to enter into collaborative agreements with doctors to begin prescribing birth control. The goal was to ease paperwork hurdles and boost collaborative agreements.

The bills now being considered would expand pharmacists’ scope of practice so they wouldn’t need those agreements.

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