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Following Gov. Whitmer Executive Directive, State of Michigan Expands Access to Birth Control
August 29, 2022
In the last year, nearly 600 requests for birth control were denied, governor’s May executive directive ensures Michiganders have access to medication they need
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauded the Department of Management, Technology, and Budget’s (DTMB) decision to guarantee access to generic, prescription oral medication for 200,000 additional Michiganders starting September 1, 2022 as a result of her May executive directive. Today’s action ensures that more Michiganders have control over their own bodies and builds on the governor’s leadership to reproductive freedom.
“Every Michigan woman deserves to be able to make decisions about her body, including when and if to start a family,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, we celebrate a step forward by the State of Michigan to cover birth control for the 200,000 retirees and their families covered by the MPSERS non-Medicare plan. In the last year, hundreds of requests for birth control coverage were denied, preventing those who get coverage from MPSERS plans, such as a retired teacher’s daughter, from accessing the medication they needed. We need to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure women have control over their own bodies and access to reproductive health care no matter where they live or who they are. As some politicians take steps to control women’s bodies, enacting extreme laws and restrictions on abortion and medication, I will fight like hell to protect reproductive freedom.”
Oral Contraceptives Added to MPSERS Non-Medicare Healthcare Plan
Effective September 1, 2022, generic, prescription oral contraceptives were added to the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) Non-Medicare Master Healthcare plan. Previously, oral contraceptives were only covered under the Medicare plan. As of Thursday, September 1, members in the Non-Medicare plan will have access to this coverage as well.
The MPSERS Plan covers approximately 200,000 retired school employees and their families with a goal of providing high quality health care at an affordable price for this primarily retiree population. While most of the members are retirees and do not often require reproductive health services, the plan also covers spouses and beneficiaries who utilize the coverage more frequently.
DTMB is working with OptumRx to reach out to the nearly 600 Michiganders who were denied contraception medication in the past 12 months and notify them of the newly available coverage.
Governor Whitmer’s Reproductive Health Executive Directive
Governor Whitmer’s executive directive 2022-05 instructed departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
State of Michigan departments and agencies must also identify and assess potential opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care, consistent with applicable law. They must detail how they can increase choices available to protect mental, physical, and reproductive health; safeguard the privacy of individuals seeking care; and assure the safety of reproductive healthcare providers.
Additionally, departments and agencies that communicate directly with the public on reproductive issues must provide accessible, comprehensive information about the current cost and availability of reproductive care and increase public awareness about the availability and safety of contraception.
Governor Whitmer’s Abortion Lawsuit
In April, Governor Whitmer filed a lawsuit and used the authority of the Executive Message to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s Constitution protects the right to abortion. Governor Whitmer’s legal action represents the first time a governor has filed a lawsuit to protect a woman's right to abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court signaled its willingness to consider overturning or circumscribing the federal right to an abortion.
The lawsuit asks the court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban. The abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy that is violated by the state’s near-total criminal ban of abortion. It also violates Michigan’s Equal Protection Clause due to the way the ban denies women equal rights because the law was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role for women in society.
Governor Whitmer’s Family First Investments
Since taking office, the governor has taken several actions to ensure that Michiganders can start families when they are ready and have the support they need to raise their children.
The governor launched the ‘Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies’ program to ensure women have what they need to have a healthy pregnancy. The recent, bipartisan budget the governor signed allocates $20 million to expand the program to benefit an estimated 35,000 pregnant and postpartum women in Michigan annually.
To support children in their formative years, Governor Whitmer implemented paid family leave for all of the nearly 47,000 State of Michigan employees. Parents should be able to be with and support their children after birth, and she has called on the legislature to expand this critical, pro-family benefit to all Michigan parents.
The governor has also worked across the aisle to make record investments in child care, expanding free or low-cost childcare to an additional 150,000 kids, or 40% of Michiganders 12 and under. Quality, affordable child care helps parents go back to work knowing that their kids are safe and cared for. For Michiganders considering adoption, the budget that Governor Whitmer negotiated increases support to foster families, guardians, and adoptive families by 20%, sending over $25 million directly to families.
For Michiganders who are not yet ready to start a family, Governor Whitmer has been clear that women and qualified medical providers should be making health care decisions—not politicians.
Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom
- April 7: Filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion.
- April 7: Penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press explaining her action and highlighting that 7 in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe.
- May 3: Joined 16 other states to urge the United States Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine Roe’s protections in federal law.
- May 9: Penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why she isn’t waiting for Congress to act and urging fellow pro-choice governors, state representatives, private businesses, and citizens to take action to protect reproductive rights.
- May 25: Signed an executive directive instructing state of Michigan departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, such as contraception. The executive directive also instructs departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
- June 23: Launched a new consumer website to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception with most insurance plans.
- June 24: On the day of the Dobbs decision, filed a motion urging the Court to immediately consider her lawsuit.
- June 27: Followed up with an additional notice to the Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit.
- June 29: Sent a letter to Michigan’s insurers urging them to take steps to ensure Michiganders have coverage for reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible under current coverage.
- July 6: Joined with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. The public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, healthcare providers throughout the state, and the public.
- July 7: Called on the federal government to clarify and protect Michiganders’ right to cross the US-Canada border to seek reproductive health care or prescription medication including medication abortion.
- July 11: Urged President Biden to make birth control available over the counter without a prescription.
- July 13: Signed an executive order refusing to extradite women or health care providers who come to Michigan seeking reproductive freedom.
- July 22: Called on FDA to reduce barriers to medication abortion.
- August 1: Secured a restraining order blocking certain county prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban after a court cleared a path for them to do so earlier on the same day.
- August 3: Went to court to defend the restraining order and won.
- August 4: Filed renewed request with Michigan Supreme Court to protect right to abortion.
- August 4: Submitted legal brief to prevent enforcement of extreme 1931 abortion ban.
- August 10: Filed motion for a preliminary injunction against 1931 abortion ban in Oakland County Circuit Court.
- August 19: Won a preliminary injunction against the 1931 abortion ban, protecting legal abortion in Michigan until the Michigan Supreme Court takes up the governor’s lawsuit or Michiganders vote to protect women’s fundamental rights.