New Bill Passes the Senate

Elinor Smith is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service. This is one of her reports:

HELENA — Montanans have to go to the pharmacy every couple months to refill their birth control if they want to avoid getting pregnant or need to treat a medical condition like endometriosis. A bill that would change that by requiring insurance to cover birth control refills for up to a year at a time passed in the Senate Wednesday on a vote of 37-to-12.  

Rep. Alice Buckley, D- Bozeman, is the sponsor of House Bill 302, but Sen. Jason Small, R-Busby, carried it in the Senate. He said during debate on the bill Tuesday that it would make sure women can consistently manage their health without having to periodically ask for their medicine. 

“And we all understand, while abstinence is the most effective form of birth control, it’s kind of an unrealistic expectation a lot of the time. Plus, a lot of women have health issues that are controlled or helped out by taking birth control pills also. And those include things like ovarian cysts, endometriosis. They need the pills to help them function properly and correctly. And it’s a matter of health. So this bill will basically help prevent delays in coverage,” Small said.  

Proponents said the bill would provide security for women across the state so they always have access to their birth control no matter what.

Some lawmakers said they had concerns about prescriptions expiring or women not seeing their doctor on a regular basis. But, Sen. Butch Gillespie, R-Ethridge, said those worries aren’t warranted. Gillespie is a member of the Senate Business Labor and Economic Affairs Committee and heard the bill when it was first introduced to the committee on March 22.

“We had a lot of professionals testify on this and we hashed it out extremely well. So, yeah, not much to fear there. So just read the labels, and do what it says and you’ve got —  you don’t have to fear about running out this way that — I thought that was a good, strong point,” Gillespie said.  

The bill will now be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto. 



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