In today’s health care news, Democrats want insurance to cover over-the-counter birth control, the House voted to overturn the administration’s ban on fetal tissue research, and Mitt Romney wants to ban vaping in schools.

House and Senate Democrats rolled out a proposal Thursday that would require insurance companies to cover over-the-counter birth control at no cost to patients.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would ensure birth control that is available to women without a prescription is covered by insurance companies.

Currently, there’s only one oral contraception available over the counter, without a prescription: Plan B, commonly referred to as the morning after pill. Because it’s available without a prescription, it’s often not covered by insurance companies.

One key detail: This bill would not make birth control available over the counter. Only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to do so. It only requires that insurance companies pay for over-the-counter birth control if it is ever approved by the FDA.

Context: While over the counter birth control is widely available in other countries, it’s not in the U.S.  A drug manufacturer would have to petition the FDA to approve their product for sale over the counter. No drug makers have done this, though at least two have expressed interest.

Bipartisanship? The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Katie Hill (D-Calif.). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week agreed with a tweet from Ocasio-Cortez saying birth control should be available over the counter. Pressley then encouraged Cruz to sign on to her bill, but he didn’t respond.

Read more here.


Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced a bill Thursday that would ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities. The bill would explicitly include e-cigarettes in the smoking ban currently in place in educational and childcare facilities. It comes amid a massive increase in youth vaping, and the lawmakers noted that federal agencies have more work to do to study the health risks of nicotine use and addiction among youth.

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