Washington, D. C. – In a pre-emptive effort to preserve the requirement that health insurance policies provide free birth control and other services to women in case the Affordable Care Act is repealed, a pair of Oregon lawmakers have pre-filed a measure ahead of the legislative session.
House Bill 2232, which supporters have dubbed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, would also require health insurers in Oregon to provide annual well-woman visits, pregnancy testing and prenatal services with no out-of-pocket costs to patients. It also would require such coverage for abortions, which would be rare and is not currently part of federal or state law.
Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, a Democrat from Gresham, said she pre-filed the measure ahead of the legislative session, which begins Feb. 1, to protect services currently required under the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law that Republicans in Congress are working to dismantle.
Oregon joins a number of other states in which lawmakers have recently launched efforts to preserve free birth control if the ACA is repealed.
Twenty-eight states, including Oregon, have laws that mandate contraceptive coverage, although most allow cost-sharing. If the ACA is repealed, policies sold in Oregon will still need to cover contraceptives, but insurers could impose copayments or other out-of-pocket costs.
The measure would also require coverage for a number of screenings, including cervical cancer, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, anemia, gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections and genetic breast cancer risk. Insurers would also need to cover breastfeeding support and supplies and interventions for tobacco use interventions and domestic violence.
It also says insurers can’t limit enrollees’ ability to choose which contraceptive method they prefer.
The bill also requires coverage for abortions, an item that’s likely to be controversial among lawmakers. It would allow employers to claim religious exemptions.
The Affordable Care Act does not include abortions in its list of required health care services, so this measure would go beyond the federal law.
It’s unclear how health insurance carriers will react to the measure, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2018.