For Immediate Release
May 22, 2013
Insurance Plans Filed for the State Exchange Will Not Cover Abortion
Legislators Need to Pass the RPA Now or Women Will Lose the Freedom and Privacy to Make Their Own Pregnancy Decisions
New health insurance plans recently filed under the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange will exclude coverage for abortion, just as women’s health advocates warned. The Reproductive Parity Act (HB 1044), which has not yet passed this year, would ensure coverage for abortion under all insurance plans.
Among the initial filings, five plans will include the voluntary termination of a pregnancy, four plans will completely exclude abortion, and one plan may cover abortion only for instances of rape, incest and serious endangerment to the woman’s health.
“Insurance carriers are businesses. Because of the barriers to abortion coverage that were put into the Affordable Care Act by anti-women’s health extremists, carriers face business decisions about abortion coverage that will affect their bottom lines,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “This news makes it crystal clear that in order for Washington women to not lose the coverage they have today for all of their legal pregnancy options, the legislature needs step up and pass the Reproductive Parity Act now.”
The fate of the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) remains in the hands of Senators Steve Litzow and Rodney Tom as to whether it will pass in the special session. Despite both men publicly supporting the bill in the media, to their constituents and by signing a letter along with 23 other Senators saying they would work to pass it, they have not taken the votes to move the bill forward. The RPA passed the House 53-43 during the 2013 regular legislative session. Due to the rules of the special legislative session currently in progress, the bill will have to be passed again on the floor of the House in addition to being passed by Litzow, Tom and the remainder of the Senate in order to be sent to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signature. Governor Inslee has vowed to sign it.
“Do Senator Tom or Senator Litzow really think it’s more important to stick with the Majority Caucus Coalition than it is to protect coverage for half the insured women in our state?” asked Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “We elected them to protect the values of Washington voters and they are letting us down.”
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 300,000 women of reproductive age in Washington are gaining insurance coverage. The promise of health care reform was that women would have more access to health care, not less. But administrative burdens put in place when the Affordable Care Act was passed give insurance carriers incentive to drop coverage for abortion. The Reproductive Parity Act would ensure every insurance plan that covers maternity care also covers abortion. Families are counting on their new healthcare coverage to help in tough economic times, and abortion coverage is no exception, say advocates.
“We have already seen state after state across the country deny women access to abortion coverage based on the administrative hurdles instituted by health reform. While some said patients’ rights advocates were crying wolf, we now know the threat was real, and it is imminent,” said Lisa M. Stone, Executive Director at Legal Voice. “We need to ensure that Washington maintains its values. The legislature must pass the Reproductive Parity Act now.”
Editorial boards across the state and Governor Jay Inslee have all called on the Majority Caucus Coalition to give the Reproductive Parity Act a vote.
Advocates for the bill include: Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, National Organization for Women, Legal Voice and ACLU Washington, among other organizations.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans, Idahoans, Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is a grassroots pro-choice political advocacy organization. NARAL works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.
Legal Voice is a nonprofit women’s rights legal organization that pursues justice for all women and girls in the Northwest through ground-breaking litigation, legislative advocacy, and educational tools to help individuals understand their rights