THE BLOG

Gardner Breaks Promise on Birth Control

06/08/2015 06:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2016

Last year, then U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner had a nice-sounding proposal: offer birth control over the counter, easy and quick.

But, as journalists pointed out, Gardner's plan would be more expensive for women because under Obamacare, birth control prescribed by doctors is free. Insurance companies are required to cover it.

Not to worry, replied Gardner. He promised to fix an "obscure provision" in Obamacare and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control.

Women should "still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it," Gardner told Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols Sept. 28 (at 15 seconds in the video).  "That's why we need to fix Obamacare."

Women "will have an insurance policy that covers it," Gardner promised Stokols.

Gardner even attacked Democrats, telling the Denver Post during the campaign: "If Democrats are serious about making oral contraception affordable and accessible," Gardner wrote, "we can reverse that technical provision [in Obamacare]."

Once elected, however, Gardner didn't deliver on his promise. He and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire introduced a bill that simply offers incentives to drug companies to gain FDA approval to sell contraception over the counter.

Nothing in the bill mandates that insurance companies would be required to cover birth control that's sold over the counter. Instead, the bill allows Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications. Those are savings accounts, with tax advantages, that individuals can set up. That's nothing like having birth control covered under your insurance plan.

News coverage of Gardner's over-the-counter birth-control bill has noted that women's health groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have condemned the freshman senator's proposal as insufficient and expensive for women. Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado's statement that the bill is a "sham" has been duly noted.

But reporters have yet to spotlight the fact that Gardner did not deliver on the pledge he made during the campaign to ensure that birth control remains free, covered by insurance. The question is, why did he drop the ball? Was he lying? Did he change his mind? Did he determine that his original promise was unworkable?

Reporters should find out.