Ted Cruz agrees with Ocasio-Cortez: Birth control should be available without a prescription

WASHINGTON – Conservative Sen. Ted Cruz has found another issue on which he wants to partner with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Birth control.

Weeks after the unlikely duo agreed to work together on legislation banning former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists, Cruz tweeted that he agrees with Ocasio-Cortez that birth control should be available without a prescription.

"Perhaps, in addition to the legislation we are already working on together to ban Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, we can team up here as well," the Texas Republican tweeted Wednesday. "A simple, clean bill making birth control available over the counter. Interested?"

Cruz is not the first Republican to back this idea.

In 2015, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte introduced legislation to make it easier for drug makers to ask the Food and Drug Administration for permission to sell contraceptives over the counter.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on June 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Julie Rovner, a veteran health care reporter with Kaiser Health News, observed after Cruz's tweet that Republicans have "been pushing this for several years to escape from the political problems of who should pay for birth control and its conflation with abortion debate."

The hitch, she noted on Twitter, is that the change could cost women more money.  The Affordable Care Act requires coverage of contraceptives without copayments or deductibles. But insurers don't cover over-the-counter drugs so women would have to pay out of pocket for them.

Sen. Ted Cruz , R-Texas, questions Attorney General William Barr during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee hearing about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and his handling of the investigation in Washington on May 1, 2019.

In 2015, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced a counter measure to the Gardner and Ayotte bill to extend the requirement of coverage if birth control pills become available without a prescription.

Cruz's offer of a "simple, clean bill" raises the question of whether he would include such a requirement in his offer.

When Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week "Psst! Birth control should be over-the-counter, pass it on," she added: "(It should be free, too - like in the UK!)"

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