Oregon Democrats are advancing legislation to require insurance coverage of reproductive health services, including abortion care, and to lock in mandatory coverage of free birth control across the state.
The legislation comes as Republicans in Congress take steps to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health-care reform law requires insurance companies to cover a range of contraceptives without a co-pay, a benefit supported by 71 percent of Americans.
That benefit appears likely to disappear with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House.
Oregon joins others states, such as Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York, where Democratic lawmakers are advancing bills to make mandatory insurance coverage of free contraception, as Reuters reported.
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House Bill 2232 in Oregon goes further by promising insurance coverage of a range of reproductive health services, including STD testing, pre- and post-natal care, and abortion.
The legislation is a marked departure from much of the country, but Oregon is one of the few states in which Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Half of states restrict abortion care coverage in insurance plans offered through ACA exchanges, and ten states extend the restrictions to private insurance plans, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The legislation’s chief sponsors are Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham), and Rep. Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene). A coalition of reproductive rights advocates in Oregon hailed the legislation as the nation’s broadest guarantee of “reproductive health equity.”
“All Oregonians should have access to the full range of reproductive health care, starting with preventive care and continuing through postpartum care,” Laurel Swerdlow, advocacy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said in a statement.
The bill bars discrimination in insurance coverage based on gender identity, among other protections. The legislation also carves out a religious imposition exception.
“Transgender and gender-nonconforming Oregonians need access to services often categorized as ‘women’s health care,’ including gender-specific cancer screenings,” said Kara Carmosino, program director for Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, in a statement. “Unfortunately, when coverage is dependent on one’s gender marker, procedural barriers can hinder access to this necessary and lifesaving care.”