Legislation Sponsored by Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, McKeon, Mukherji, Holley, Caride, Downey
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, John McKeon, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Marlene Caride, and Joann Downey to increase fertility coverage for New Jersey families received final legislative approval 58-6-3 by the full Assembly on Wednesday.
Under current law, hospital, medical and health service corporations, commercial group insurers and health maintenance organizations are required, in certain circumstances, to provide coverage under group policies for medically necessary expenses incurred in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. However, under the current definition of infertility certain women, such as same sex partners, women without partners, or women with partners who have protected intercourse, are not qualified to receive coverage for these benefits.
Therefore, the bill (A-1447) would require the State Health Benefits Program and the School Employees Health Benefits Plan to provide expanded availability of insurance coverage for infertility-related health benefits.
"No one should be denied coverage for health services due to their sexual orientation," said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). "New Jersey has always been on the front lines of the fight for equality, but outdated regulation like this continues to hold us back."
"It's time to remove certain conditions from current laws to ensure that any woman who wants to begin or grow her family has the support she needs to do so," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Times have changed and so have the constructs of family and relationships. Current law does not reflect the needs of today's woman in today's society."
"We must do more to support women in New Jersey and to provide them access to the tools that will help them live their best lives," said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). "Addressing the limitations current law places on fertility coverage under certain health plans is an important step."
Under the bill, the definition of infertility is restructured so as to require coverage for the medically necessary expenses for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility, by defining "infertility" to mean: a disease or condition that results in the abnormal function of the reproductive system, as determined pursuant to American Society for Reproductive Medicine practice guidelines by a physician who is Board Certified or Board Eligible in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility or in Obstetrics and Gynecology; or that the patient has met one of the following conditions:
- a male is unable to impregnate a female;
- a female with a male partner and under 35 years of age is unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse;
- a female with a male partner and 35 years of age and over is unable to conceive after six months of unprotected sexual intercourse;
- a female without a male partner and under 35 years of age who is unable to conceive after 12 failed attempts of intrauterine insemination under medical supervision;
- a female without a male partner and over 35 years of age who is unable to conceive after six failed attempts of intrauterine insemination under medical supervision;
- partners are unable to conceive as a result of involuntary medical sterility;
- a person is unable to carry a pregnancy to live birth; or
- a previous determination of infertility pursuant to the law.
"The outdated definition for infertility forces women to pay for fertility treatments out of pocket, making a difficult time in their lives even harder," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "By expanding insurance coverage for infertility treatments, we are helping to improve treatment options for all women in New Jersey."
"All women, regardless of lifestyle choices, should be covered for the treatments they need to start a family," said Holley (D-Union). "Times have changed and now the law and policies need to follow suit to ensure that we do not purposely alienate anyone from the treatment and services they need."
"Residents are being denied access to infertility treatments they need in order to start their families," said Caride (D-Bergen, Passaic). "It is wrong and this legislation aims to correct it."
"No one should be denied health coverage. Period," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "Women starting families, whether single or in a same-sex relationship or married, should receive the support they need from their health care provider."
The current statutory definition of infertility requires a woman under the age of 35 to have unprotected intercourse for at least two years without being able to conceive, a woman over the age of 35 to have unprotected intercourse for one year without being able to conceive, or a partner to have been deemed medically sterile or unable to carry a pregnancy to live birth. Women who do not meet the current definition for infertility are denied coverage for these benefits.
The bill now heads to the Governor's desk.