Legislators Advocate For Improved Access to Fertility Treatment

Three lawmakers have re-introduced a bicameral bill that would expand health insurance coverage for infertility treatment and services. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez re-introduced the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act on May 17. The bill would require more health insurance providers to cover infertility treatment and fertility preservation services “for individuals who undergo a medically necessary procedure that may cause infertility,” such as chemotherapy.

"For many American families, the pain and frustration of infertility is made worse by a staggering financial burden," Booker said in a statement. "This bill will ensure more Americans have the opportunity to start or build a family by requiring more insurance plans cover treatment for infertility and fertility preservation services."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines infertility as “as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.” RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association noted that one in eight couples, or 12 percent of married women, “have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.” The association also noted that 7.4 million women have received infertility services in their lifetime.

Senator Menendez said in the statement that women and families should not have to worry about potential infertility from medical treatment. He added that the bill would help create healthy families.

"Expanding access to affordable health care services is vital in creating strong and healthy families and this bill will improve coverage of infertility treatment and fertility preservation for patients,” Mendez said. “This is an important protection for women and families so they grow or start a family without facing the financial burden that so many face right now."

DeLauro and Booker introduced the bill last year and gained support from organizations including RESOLVE, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and the American Urological Association. "Too many people in our country are suffering from the heartbreak of infertility while struggling with an impossible choice: paying their bills — their rent, their mortgage, putting food on the table — or paying out of pocket to try to have a child," DeLauro said in the statement. "Healthcare providers need to step up and do the right thing by covering infertility treatment. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to ensure people have the opportunity to grow their family."

Earlier this month, Booker and Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley introduced the Healthy MOMMIES Act, which would extend coverage for women who are pregnant and covered by Medicaid, as well as extend coverage for new mothers from two months to a full year after giving birth. This coverage is particularly crucial for Black women, who accounted for 40 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2011 and 2014 — white women represented 12.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in that same time period, according to CDC findings.

“We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo — we must do something about it and this bill is an important first step,” Booker said in a previous statement. “By expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant moms, we can begin to stem the rising tide of maternal mortality and close the egregious racial disparities that exist in maternal and infant health outcomes.”

The proposed bill sponsored by the Congresswoman and the Democratic presidential hopeful would ensure that pregnant and postpartum women will have access to full healthcare coverage. It would also give women access to doula care, which is support personnel for pregnant women.

“The lived experiences of Black women demonstrate how racism and trauma directly impact the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities for generations,” Pressley said in the statement. “Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth. The Healthy MOMMIES Act would do just that by promoting a community-based, holistic approach to maternal care that recognizes current disparities in healthcare and critical environmental factors impacting communities.”

In an effort to raise awareness for Black maternal health in Congress, Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) announced the creation of a Black Maternal Health Caucus in April.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.