Updated: 4:00 p.m.
While running for election, Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated Friday, promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
Trump hasn't said exactly what will replace the ACA. In an interview Wednesday, he said, "We're going to have a plan that's going to be great for people." But two Oregon lawmakers aren't waiting to find out. Instead, they are introducing legislation to protect and expand reproductive healthcare for Oregonians.
House Bill 2232, which proponents are calling the Reproductive Health Equity Act, would protect free birth control and require health insurers to cover other reproductive health services, including well-woman care, prenatal care, breastfeeding support and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
HB 2232 would also cover abortions, which the Bend Bulletin reports are not currently covered by state or federal law.
Jake Sunderland, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Service, told us over the phone Wednesday that while there aren't definitive numbers, most insurers in Oregon do currently cover abortion.
Twenty-five states have laws restricting health plans that cover abortion from participating in state insurance exchanges.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, California is the only state that requires all plans "to treat abortion coverage and maternity coverage neutrally." That means that all plans must include maternity and abortion coverage.
It should be noted that both the ACA and House Bill 2232 have exemptions for "religious employers."
Sunderland said that currently, "there's a broad set of women's health benefits" that must be covered under Oregon law, though many of those allow insurers to charge copays.
Generally, he said, the more money you pay for your plan, the cheaper your copays will be.
State law, however, is superseded by federal law. Under the ACA, many types of women's preventive health care, including mammograms, contraception, prenatal care, and breastfeeding support, generally must be covered with no "cost sharing" or copay.
A press release sent out Wednesday by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon said that the Reproductive Health Equity Act will ensure "that Oregonians have coverage for the full range of preventive reproductive health services at zero out-of-pocket cost."
Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, one of the sponsors of HB 2232 along with Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, told us over the phone Wednesday that this bill would mean coverage for reproductive health care with no copay for patients.
"It doesn't do a poor woman any good who has a $2000 deductible if she can't pay $400," he said.
"It would be much cheaper to provide them with education and contraception," he added, "than [to provide for] an unwanted baby."
According to the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon release, "a broad coalition of racial and gender justice, reproductive rights and community groups from across the state have joined forces" to introduce the bill. That coalition consists of American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Family Forward Oregon, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and Western States Center.
Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, the second sponsor of HB 2232, told us over the phone Wednesday that with no replacement for the ACA currently available, "We want to get ahead of what may happen at the federal level."
"We've always been first in all of these issues in the state of Oregon," she added.
Oregon is one of the few states that requires pharmacies to provide on-demand birth control pills and hormonal patches and the first state to require insurers to cover a 12-month supply of birth control at a time.
The bill will go to the House first, where Monnes Anderson expects the language will be fine-tuned and questions about specifics under the bill will be answered.
"Insurance carriers will definitely be at the table," she said.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, under the ACA, the percentage of women who received free birth control pills went from 15 percent before it became law to 67 percent after.
Jimmy Radosta, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said Wednesday that the number of abortions in Oregon has declined over the last several years and is down 15 percent between 2011 and 2014.
Radosta attributes that change to an increase in "access to preventive care, birth control and medically accurate, age-appropriate sexual health education."
-- Lizzy Acker
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