Senate passes bill to expand coverage of maternity care and contraception

DENVER– The Senate today sent legislation for the governor to sign into law that will require insurance companies here to include maternity coverage with a majority of the policies they sell. The legislation will also require insurance companies to include contraception in all policies.

The bill, HB 1021, sponsored in the Senate by Denver Democrat Joyce Foster , faced significant push-back on its final reading from Republicans, who remained concerned the bill would force organizations and individuals into paying for contraceptive care they might find morally objectionable. The bill passed on a party line vote.

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“I realize that there is a chasm here of philosophy. I do not want to get into that,” Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, said, as he offered an amendment to limit the mandate for contraceptive care. He aimed to soften the bill to require contraception coverage in not all but just a majority of policies. Republicans on the Senate floor rallied behind the amendment.

“So while we are thinking about young servers at night clubs or ski bums that obviously need maternity coverage or contraceptive coverage,” said Broomfield Republican Shawn Mitchell sarcastically, “in fact, the kind of employers we are really talking about are maybe Catholic charities or a different religious institutions. Why would it be so important to this body to ram this unbending program on such employers? It is a self-selected group that works for those kinds of employers.”

“Please respect diversity. Please respect freedom of choice. Please respect freedom of conscience,” he said.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R- Berthoud, pleaded for contraceptives to be removed from some policies.

“Please accommodate the minority opinion. Don’t put in place the tyranny of the majority. You have the votes for the bill… acknowledge that not everybody agrees. There are concerns as to what are contraceptives.”

Bill sponsor Foster simply noted again today as she has in earlier debates that women for years have been paying into plans that offer prostate coverage, which offers them no benefit, that spreading costs is how insurance is supposed to work.

As it is now in Colorado, women without access to group health insurance plans, who struggle to pay for either contraception or maternity care out of pocket, are pushed by economics toward abortion, which is covered.

Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, said the point of the is to provide greater choice for individuals, not for institutions.

“There is no individual who is forced to use contraception.”

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