Planned Parenthood presses Colorado lawmakers to support maternity coverage

DENVER– Planned Parenthood of the Rockies staff and supporters descended on the capitol today as part of an annual effort to lobby lawmakers. This year about 80 of the organization’s supporters specifically targeted legislators who will be considering a Senate version of a bill that would mandate individual market health insurance plans to include maternity coverage and contraception. Women can now buy individual-market insurance plans that cover abortions, but few that cover contraception and almost no plans that cover maternity.

Lobby Day: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains supporters and staff (Boven)

Lobby Day: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains supporters and staff (Boven)

“We are here to talk to our state legislators about House Bill 1021 as part of our efforts for Lobby Day,” Monica McCafferty, media relations specialist for Planned Parenthood of the Rockies told the Independent. “We believe that reproductive healthcare is basic health and it should be treated like that in the individual market. We are asking the legislature to restore the maternity coverage mandate and to make sure that contraception is covered.”

House Bill 1021 has already been thinned in committee and as it stands would essentially leave women in Colorado who aren’t enrolled in a group plan with access only to high-cost special maternity coverage policies or no coverage at all.

The bill was amended last week in the Senate Committee on Business, Labor and Technology and passed on a party line vote. It now only requires insurance companies to offer at least one individual-market policy that carries maternity coverage but it would also require that all individual-market policies cover contraception. Analysts say insurance companies, looking to avoid maternity claims, would respond to the mandate by only offering a single expensive policy that almost no women would buy.

House sponsor Beth McCann, D-Denver, told the Colorado Independent weeks ago that she expected her bill would have trouble making its way through the Senate, where conservatives would argue it placed an unfair burden on insurance companies. A strong version of the bill passed the House with little opposition.

The bill passed through the Senate committee on a party-line vote, suggesting a Senate Democrat might have amended the bill because, even as amended, it received no GOP support.

Senate sponsor Joyce Foster, D-Denver, told the Colorado Independent that the bill was only voted on in its present state because she “wanted the bill out of committee.” She said she would be offering a new amendment on the floor Thursday.

“There will be a motion tomorrow to amend, so that in the individual market each insurance company will have to have the majority of their plans offering maternity care. So, if they have five plans, three of them have to have maternity coverage. That worked better because it spreads the risk and that will be better than having [maternity coverage all lumped] into one [policy]. Even prostate [coverage] is in all policies!”

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Joseph Boven

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