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Contraceptive Equity as a Reproductive Right: Maryland in the Lead Yet Again

On May 10, 2016, Gov Larry Hogan of Maryland signed into law the Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act of 2016 (MCEA). In so doing, he reaffirmed and extended principles laid down in 1998 by his predecessor, Gov Parris Glendening, when Maryland, a trailblazer in women’s health care, became the first state in the nation to enact a contraceptive insurance mandate.

The MCEA requires state-regulated private payers and the public Medicaid program to underwrite cost-free over-the-counter emergency contraceptives and male sterilization. Self-insured employer benefit plans remain exempt because they are governed by federal rather than state laws. The law also eliminates copayments, guarantees a 6-month supply of oral contraceptives at a time (so the woman doesn’t have to return to the pharmacy each month for a 1-month supply), and abolishes preauthorization requirements for long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices and subdermal contraceptive implants.

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