As the legislative session sped to an end Friday, Oregon made significant gains for reproductive health, ensuring insurance covers abortions for all women, regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity.
House Bill 3391 acts as a hard defense were the Affordable Care Act to be repealed, safeguarding the right to abortion and protecting coverage for preventive reproductive health care. The bill will cost an estimated $10 million.
The bill is a groundbreaking win for women's health, making Oregon the second state to require private insurance to cover all abortions, after California.
Insurers will also be required to cover contraception, sterilization, prenatal and postpartum care, abortion care, screenings for reproductive cancers and STIs, and counseling for survivors of domestic violence, for women who have had abortions, breast cancer patients and breastfeeding support—all at no cost to patients.
The bill does, however, allow exemption from plans sold to religious employers.
The bill had massive support from many organizations, including the National Organization for Women, Basic Rights Oregon, the Oregon Latino Health Organization, Planned Parenthood, The Bus Project and even the New York Times Editorial Board who called it, "a powerful defense, at the state level, of necessary reproductive health care."
In legislative testimony, Dr. Doris Cancel-Tirado of the Oregon Commission for Women wrote in support of the bill:
“All Oregonian women should have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy live and to make the right choices for their reproductive health needs regardless of their income, where they born, where they live, their gender identity and type of insurance.”
Groups are also in support of the bill for its reach to transgender and gender-nonconforming patients.
Kara Carmosino, Director of Programs and Strategy for Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, said in a statement:
Transgender and gender-nonconforming Oregonians need access to services often categorized as ‘women’s health care,’ including gender-specific cancer screenings. Unfortunately, when coverage is dependent on one’s gender marker, procedural barriers can hinder access to this necessary and lifesaving care.
Major organizations opposed the bill, including Providence, the state's largest health provider, largest private employer and largest health plan. The Oregon Family Council, a Christian organization, also opposed the bill.
Michael Cotton, chief executive of Providence Health Plants wrote:
Requiring Providence Health Plans to include abortion as a covered benefit … puts those at risk who receive coverage through Providence—that’s as many as 260,000 Oregonians.
The passing of Oregon's bill comes the same week Texas passed a highly controversial conservative abortion law ruling that doctors must bury or cremate remains of a fetus, instead of treating it as medical waste. The law would also prohibit dilation and evacuation abortions, which are the safest form of late-term pregnancy abortion.
Once signed by Governor Kate Brown, Oregon's law will go into effect immediately.
UPDATE July 7, 2017 11:31 am:
The amendments to HB 3391 addressed Providence's concerns.
"If passed as amended, HB 3391 no longer creates a barrier to our participation in Oregon's health insurance market," Providence spokesman Gary Walker told the Portland Business Journal.