My Turn: Abortion coverage must be protected

For the Monitor
Published: 2/18/2020 6:00:29 AM

Last year was difficult for reproductive rights in many parts of the country. State legislatures passed 25 abortion bans throughout the South and Midwest. On top of that, the Trump administration dismantled the bipartisan Title X family planning program that has been in place since 1970, which more than 4 million Americans rely on to access affordable birth control and reproductive health care.

Thankfully, none of these abortion bans are in effect yet and the New Hampshire Legislature crafted a budget that protects Granite State patients from the Title X gag rule. But now another threat is here: The Trump administration has finalized one rule and proposed another that will make it more difficult for health insurance plans to cover abortion and result in millions of women losing insurance coverage of abortion.

Not only could some plans drop coverage of abortion to avoid the administrative burdens and related consumer confusion these rules will cause, but consumers may be at risk of losing insurance coverage altogether if they fail to follow the new requirements.

These two new Trump administration rules make it more important than ever that New Hampshire patients have the right to access abortion services through their health insurance. Currently in New Hampshire, insurance companies can choose not to cover abortion services, making Granite Staters vulnerable to these attacks on their health care.

In response to these dangerous new rules, I am sponsoring the Reproductive Health Parity Act of 2020. My bill, SB 486, will require private insurance and plans on the health insurance marketplace to cover abortion if the plans also cover prenatal care. I’m proud to sponsor legislation that continues New Hampshire’s long bipartisan tradition of protecting and expanding access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.

This bill builds upon the progress we made last session when we enshrined the essential health benefits of the ACA into state law and passed a law that requires New Hampshire insurers to cover infertility diagnosis and treatment. New Hampshire law already requires insurance to cover contraception thanks to another law we passed in 2018.

By passing the Reproductive Health Parity Act, New Hampshire would join seven other states, including our neighbors in Maine and Connecticut, that have passed laws to protect patients from discriminatory attacks on abortion coverage. Alarmingly, half of all states have banned abortion coverage in at least some private insurance plans, including 15 states that ban coverage in the ACA marketplace and 11 that ban coverage in all private insurance.

Without insurance coverage, those who are seeking to end their pregnancy could pay up to $1,500 or more in out-of-pocket costs for an abortion. This barrier could lead many to delay seeking necessary care or force them to travel out of state for services. These new Trump administration rules are especially alarming for people who need an abortion later in pregnancy. Such abortion services involve more time and medical attention and are often more expensive.

New Hampshire has a long bipartisan history of supporting a person’s right to make their own private health care decisions, but the reality is that if someone can’t afford to pay for an abortion, then it is a right in name only. The Reproductive Health Parity Act is an important step toward correcting a discriminatory inequity in New Hampshire’s health care system and a critical measure to protect Granite Staters against the Trump administration’s attacks on our health care and our rights.

Everyone deserves reproductive health care coverage that meets their needs, including abortion, without shame or stigma.

(Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua represents District 13 in the New Hampshire Senate.)




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