To the Editor:
“People come up to this consultation window, and they kind of just pour their hearts out because they feel like it’s a safe place here.”
That’s how Groton CVS pharmacy manager Janet Mattiucci described the challenges women face in accessing birth control.
And she’s right.
The pharmacy is a safe place. A familiar and trusted place. An accessible place.
Access to birth control really is a fundamental right of women.
That’s why State Sen. Ryan Fazio, R-Greenwich, and I are co-sponsoring a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control. As the pandemic has shown, pharmacists play an important role in improving the health of patients by increasing access to care. Pharmacists like Janet Mattiucci are truly on the frontlines of health care, and they do much more than simply fill prescriptions.
- They are highly trained health professionals who possess specialized knowledge and expertise in medication management.
- They provide a broad spectrum of services through face-to-face counseling, they drive medication adherence, close gaps in care, recommend more cost-effective drug therapies
- They are committed to helping people find solutions that work for them.
- They have years of education and experience
- They possess the clinical ability to provide chronic, acute, and preventative services to meet the needs of their patients.
Enabling pharmacists to provide enhanced services recognizes this ability and their practice experience as trusted clinicians as well as providing timely and safe access to contraception.
In my role as Ranking Senator on the legislature’s Public Health Committee, I have dedicated my efforts to protecting and promoting better healthcare access for women. It’s not always easy for women in more rural parts of eastern Connecticut, to see a doctor quickly. I represent a diverse district with many rural areas in which many women experience barriers to accessing healthcare including limited transportation, long wait times and difficulty scheduling appointments. Often, it is difficult to make an appointment with a primary care physician, particularly for new patients and there is also a shortage of OB-GYNs in our state. It is critical that contraceptives are readily accessible to women without any unnecessary hurdles or obstacles.
After over 60 years of safe availability, women should have better access to hormonal birth control as they do in more than states around the country. It is time to normalize and formalize easy, affordable access to hormonal birth control and close the gap in areas of contraception deserts in our state. In Connecticut, we want women to have full control over their bodies which includes more options and access to contraception and this legislative proposal is a concrete step in that direction.
Our bill does not impose any mandates. It simply gives more options, which is why it is supported those in the medical community. Interested women would receive a health assessment with a pharmacist who has received training and who would provide a screening and information on any risks associated with the dispensed prescription. Pharmacists are often available outside of the traditional healthcare hours and in some cases are available 24/7, which increases access for women. A deeper conversation with a physician is always welcomed.
Women’s health is not a partisan issue; it’s a moral issue. I thank the many legislators of both parties, as well as the Lamont administration officials that have publicly supported this proposal. It’s important to ensure that our community’s health care needs are met, including women’s unique needs.
Our proposal eliminates barriers in obtaining birth control. At the same time, it introduces a new health care resource in the form of local pharmacists and enhances their already essential role in increasing women’s access to important medical care.
Providing women more choice over their health care decisions along with better access, is common sense policymaking. More than 30 other states have successfully implemented this reform. Connecticut should be the next.
I look forward to the day when we’ll day able to offer this important service here in Connecticut at that “safe place” Janet Mattiucci described so well. That day may come this later this year if our bill reaches the governor’s desk.
Somers, a resident of Groton, represents the 18th District in the State Senate