Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Insurance coverage of birth control by employers is sparking a furious debate at the national level.
A new bill requiring coverage was introduced here in Minnesota on Tuesday at the State Capitol.
A group of DFL legislators is proposing the bill, which would require insurance to cover contraceptive care in full, including the deductible.
The legislators said they were inspired in part by the fierce debate in Washington D.C. that included Rush Limbaugh’s use of a slur to describe law student Sandra Fluke, who testified in favor of insurance coverage for contraception.
Republicans are already speaking out against the proposal that would require MInnesota insurers to cover birth control including all copays.
In a Republican legislature it will be very tough for this measure to pass, but sponsors say they will fight for it. Rep. Erin Murphy is the bill’s chief sponsor, flanked by other DFL legisaltors, and said this is about fairness.
“This legislation will close the gap in Minnesota so that all Minnesota women will have access to this affordable coverage,” Murphy said.
The proposal is similar to President Obama’s plan, which also requires coverage of contraception by employers starting next year. Like the Obama policy, faith-based organizations have an out.
“Health plans sponsored by religious employers would be exempt from the coverage requirement but plans must offer coverage to the employees directly,” said Murphy.
Jessica Pielko a young working mother, said contraceptive care has allowed her to plan when she would have children.
“As a working mother I pay health insurance premiums and I pay taxes. I should have the opportunity to have those health care dollars go to health care that is relevant to me,” Pielko said.
The proposal drew immediate fire from the powerful Senate Chairman of the Health and Human Services committee David Hann.
“They are asking for mandated coverage. Minnesota currently has 67 or 68 mandated coverages, that’s more than any other state in the country and every mandate adds costs to insurance,” Hann said.
The sponsors say this bill would make Minnesota the 29th state to require contraceptive coverage, but again the issue is how far will it get in the Republican legislature. That’s likely not very far.