Michigan pharmacists could soon be allowed to prescribe birth control - TAI News
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Birth control pills. (Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition / Unsplash)

Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives are moving on a bill package that would increase birth control access by allowing pharmacists to prescribe self-administered contraceptives.

One-third of Michiganders don’t have access to an OB-GYN who can write a prescription for contraceptives. Members of Michigan’s medical community who’ve come out in support of the legislation — House Bills 5436, 5435 and 5013 — said that it would enable women to acquire affordable birth control and lower the risk of unintended pregnancies.

If the bills are passed into law, Michigan would join 28 other states and Washington, D.C., in authorizing pharmacists to prescribe self-administered contraceptives like pills, the patch and the ring. 

Rep. Kara Hope, a Holt Democrat and sponsor of H.B. 5436, said in a statement that it’s crucial to empower medical professionals and patients as the United States undergoes a pivotal moment for reproductive rights.

“This would be a significant step toward reducing reproductive health care disparities in our state and protecting people from medical neglect or resorting to harmful alternatives,” Hope said.

The bill would codify guidelines issued by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in 2022 that allowed licensed physicians to work with pharmacists to prescribe self-administered contraceptives. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order earlier that year instructing state departments to identify ways to increase protections for reproductive care in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Access to birth control is critical to a woman’s ability to plan her family and chart her own destiny,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the new policy. “We are taking action to guarantee that Michigan women have the right to easily make reproductive health care decisions that are best for them.”

Whitmer and the Legislature’s Democratic majority have taken steps to safeguard reproductive rights in the years since, including repealing the state’s 1931 abortion ban and enacting the Reproductive Health Act, which protects reproductive health care in the state.

In addition to the provisions allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control, the bill package would also require insurance coverage for those prescriptions and require insurers to cover the purchase of up to a year’s supply at one time.

“This legislation is centered on equity and reproductive freedom,” said Rep. Stephanie Young, who sponsored H.B. 5435. “By mandating insurance companies to cover pharmacist-prescribed birth control, we will decrease out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays for patients, making birth control even more accessible in Michigan.”

Dr. David Bright of the Michigan Society of Community Pharmacists wrote in testimony to the House Health Policy Committee that providing a 12-month supply of birth control will also help those who may have issues with transportation to and from a doctor’s office.

“Transportation and schedule logistics would be greatly improved if patients had to only go to a pharmacy and not to both their physician’s office and pharmacy to obtain a contraception prescription,” he said.

The bill package passed out of the House Health Policy Committee on April 18 with no Republican support. It now awaits a vote in the full House.

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