Colorado maternity coverage expanded by law signed today

Colorado women not enrolled in insurance group plans won maternity coverage today, as Gov. Bill Ritter signed HB 1021 into law at Children’s Hospital. The new law, sponsored by Denver Representatives Jerry Frangas and Beth McCann, as well as Senators Joyce Foster, D-Denver, and Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, requires that all plans on the individual insurance market cover prenatal care as well as contraception.

“This really changes the paradigm of health care for women in Colorado,” said Foster. “If you are not part of a group plan, with this bill you will be now able to buy individual insurance that will cover maternity care. Pregnancy will not be considered a preexisting condition any longer. This is a huge step for women, their families, and Colorado.”

The legislation had faced fairly stiff opposition from Republicans, who were concerned women would neglect getting coverage until they were pregnant, that costs would rise for men and that religious organizations opposed to contraception might be forced to support the new insurance plans.

Demcorats argued that women have long been paying for diseases like prostate cancer that don’t really afflict women. They also pointed out that contraception and pre-natal care that helps ensure healthy babies and mothers ultimately saves money for all and that men certainly shared in pregnancies.

“I didn’t want to bring this up,” Foster had said on the Senate floor, “but women have been paying for prostate cancer for years.”

The law will go into effect 1 January 2011.

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