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Michigan House panel OKs bills allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control

Bills that would allow trained pharmacists to prescribe birth control were approved Thursday by the Michigan House Health Policy Committee.

Birth control
SYMBOL - 25 May 2021, Berlin: Above a calendar, a woman takes the next pill from the monthly pack of the contraceptive pill. The contraceptive pill went on sale in Germany 60 years ago. (to dpa "Myth and milestone - 60 years of the pill in Germany ") Photo by: Annette Riedl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Bills that would allow trained pharmacists to prescribe birth control were approved Thursday by the Michigan House Health Policy Committee.

House Bills 5436 and 5435 would allow pharmacists to issue prescriptions for certain hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills or hormonal contraceptive patches. The bills would also require health insurance policies to cover prescriptions for these contraceptives.

Under the bills, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) would have to develop rules to establish a standard procedure for this process. This would include a self-screening assessment for patients and a special training for pharmacists before birth control can be prescribed.

House Bill 5013 would require insurance companies to cover 12 months worth of a prescription at once, rather than having to fill it once a month.

On March 6, pharmacists and other members of the medical community spoke at a House Health Policy Committee meeting in support of the bills. On Thursday, a few changes to the bills were discussed before they were referred to the House floor. 

House Bill 5435 now clarifies that health insurance policies are required to cover a contraceptive prescribed and dispensed by a pharmacist at an in-network pharmacy. House Bill 5436 was updated to authorize pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception.

“This substitute incorporates feedback from members and stakeholders. I think it’s a good compromise and I look forward to the committee’s support,” said state Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit), one of the sponsors for the bills.

If passed into law, the bills would take effect Dec. 31, 2025, to allow enough time for them to be implemented, Young said.

The bills build on LARA’s interpretation of a 2022 executive directive from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instructing state agencies to find ways to increase reproductive health care access. LARA advised pharmacists and physicians that physicians could delegate the ability to pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives under most circumstances.

Senate Bills 449 and 450, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop policies and rules for complex rehabilitation technology products and services, were also discussed on Thursday.

 

Complex rehabilitation technology products include individually configured manual and powered wheelchairs, seating and positioning systems and other devices, said Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), one of the sponsors for the bills.

Daley said the bills will better serve children and adults who have complex medical needs and are enrolled in the Michigan Medicaid Program.

“Access to CRT [complex rehabilitation technology] allows these individuals to manage their medical needs, minimize their healthcare costs and maximize their independence,” Daley said. 

Getting the correct equipment will also help support people’s health long-term, said Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), who is also sponsoring the bills. 

“These are folks who are already suffering from conditions that put them into a wheelchair, and if that wheelchair is not customized to meet their specific needs for how they sit, it just becomes a chronic problem,” Irwin said. “This is a way I think we can improve our Medicaid services for a small number of folks who have complex needs in Michigan.”

Senate Bills 449 and 450 were not voted on at the hearing. 

This story was originally published by the Michigan Advance


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