House Bills (HB) 5435 and 5436, sponsored by Reps. Kara Hope, D-Holt, and Stephanie Young, D-Detroit, were introduced earlier this week in the Michigan House of Representatives. The legislation, as introduced, would allow for pharmacists to issue a prescription for and dispense a hormonal contraceptive patch, self-administered hormonal contraceptive, or vaginal ring hormonal contraceptive to a patient. The legislation requires that the department promulgate rules governing this practice, which would include training requirements, the use of a self-screening risk assessment tool, and notify the patient’s primary care provider. The second bill in the package requires health insurers to cover contraception prescribed by a pharmacist, along with any necessary tests or assessments required to administer this service.

If passed, the legislation would allow Michigan to join the other 29 states and the District of Columbia that already allow community pharmacists to prescribe birth control. The first state to pass similar legislation was Oregon, which granted pharmacists prescriptive authority for contraceptives in 2015. The Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) and the Government Affairs Committee have worked closely with Rep. Hope and her staff and are very excited to see the legislation advance.

“Pharmacies serve as a critical access point for many patients who face challenges accessing the traditional health care system due to scheduling, transportation and other factors beyond their control,” said Eric Roath, director of government affairs for MPA.

Michigan, like many other states, is also facing a significant shortage of physicians, particularly obstetricians and gynecologists, which is exacerbating difficulties in obtaining contraception, Hope said in a press release. 

“I’m proud to spearhead this effort to significantly expand birth control access and address health care disparities across our state,” Hope said. “Allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives means removing barriers to reproductive health care — and protecting people from medical neglect or resorting to harmful alternatives.”