The Rocky Mountain PBS blog Panorama interviewed Colorado Independent writing fellow Katie Redding this week about a bill sponsored by Denver Rep. Jerry Frangas that would mandate maternity health insurance in the state. Redding has been reporting for weeks on the often absurd frustrations that greet child-bearing-age women looking to buy individual or small-group health insurance here.
Who knew Rocky Mountain PBS had a blog? And who knew Rep. Frangas was introducing maternity care legislation? Katie Redding, that’s who!
Frangas is introducing his bill in January. It would require Colorado health insurance companies that issue plans on the individual market to cover maternity in the same manner they currently cover sickness or accidents. The bill would also require both individual and group policies to cover pregnancy management, including contraceptive counseling, drugs and devices.
An interview excerpt:
PBS: Who’s in line with the Frangas bill and who will oppose it and why?
Redding: Since the legislative session hasn’t started yet, the bill is really just beginning to garner supporters and detractors. The board of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, for example, recently voted to support the bill (although it should be noted that the vote was taken before the birth control mandate was added to the bill).
On the other hand, the Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters told me that it will oppose the bill. The group has been careful to point out that it doesn’t oppose the idea of providing birth control and prenatal care. ‘CSAHU’s point is that when you mandate coverage of something that is not being covered previously, it increases the cost of insurance for everybody,’ Cindy Sovine-Miller, a lobbyist for CSAHU, told me.
The debate, right now, is largely fiscal versus moral. Proponents argue that women who can manage their pregnancies and access good prenatal care have healthier babies. Detractors argue that mandates, however important, raise premiums.
There could be an interesting twist if the maternity portion of the bill looks like it will save the state money. Chaer Robert, of the Colorado Women’s Lobby, told me that over one-third of the babies born in Colorado are born on public assistance. She speculated that women who might otherwise buy health insurance may be turning to the state as their only option.