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Republican Version Of Health Care Reform: Deny Insurance To Fertility Patients

Apparently a Republican Senate candidate believes our health care system is in crisis because the poor insurance companies are required to provide IVF coverage to fertility patients [1]:

Brown also said he was filing legislation in Massachusetts to ease regulations on insurance companies, which he said have driven up costs. He said companies should not be required to cover so many different medical services, including in vitro fertilization.

Massachusetts is one of the handful of states that actually mandate infertility coverage. It would be a shame if Brown, motivated solely by a conservative political agenda rather than any concern for real health care reform, is successful. If you live in Massachusetts, I would strongly encourage you to email this State Senator and voice your opposition. Brown can be reached at Scott.P.Brown@state.ma.us.

UPDATE: Since this entry was posted, I was referred to this excellent blog entry over at Hanna Wept, Sarah Laughed [2]. Here is her compelling email to Senator Brown:

Dear Senator Brown,

I recently read in yesterday’s Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/12/brown_health_ca.html) that you intend to propose legislation that would reduce the amount of coverage currently required to be provided by Massachusetts insurance companies, particularly with regard to the coverage of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Senator Brown, I cannot express enough how detrimental this would be not only your constituents, but to the greater scope of infertility treatment coverage in the nation. Massachusetts has perhaps some of the most comprehensive health care regulations regarding infertility treatment in the nation, and to revoke that coverage would be devastating to thousands of couples and families in this state. The cost of IVF can approach upwards of $30,000 for a single cycle, and for a couple that’s counting on their insurance company to cover their clinical costs to suddenly lose that security mid-cycle is not only financially disastrous, but emotionally destructive as well.

As an elected official in Massachusetts, infertility affects over 150,000 of your constituents, according to the CDC’s 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Yet, this isn’t something that we would necessarily write to you about. For many of us, we won’t even share these concerns outside of our closest family and friends. Some of us never find the words or the ways to share it with others, and live with a deeply stressful, private struggle. I, however, have chosen to remain silent no longer, and have channeled my fear and frustration into advocacy for an issue about which I deeply care.

Senator Brown, allow me to share my story with you, so that you may understand why insurance coverage for IVF is so important. Nine months ago, I began having symptoms wildly atypical for an otherwise healthy 26 year old woman in her childbearing years. My husband and I had no plans for children until a few years from now, once we were more settled financially. Taking the proactive approach about these strange symptoms, I sought out my doctor, who delivered a bombshell of a diagnosis: premature ovarian failure (POF). Formerly known as premature menopause, my reproductive system as essentially shut down, in a process I shouldn’t be experiencing for another two decades. At 26 years old, I had lost my ability to be able to have my own children. At 26 years old, I was married for just over a year and had no plans to even start trying to have children for another two to three years, and I was told I would never be able to achieve pregnancy naturally. The only hope of building a family, I was told, as I sat there speechless and shell-shocked in my doctor’s office, was to use donor eggs in conjunction with IVF or to pursue adoption.

It has been a wild year as my husband and I have been completely rethinking everything we thought we knew about how we would build a family together. Just days after my diagnosis, my husband was laid off. We moved quickly to transfer insurance coverage through my employer. As we began researching our options further, IVF has appeared more fiscally lucrative to our situation, particularly on one income right now. Dollar for dollar, IVF and domestic adoption cost about the same, in the $30,000 range. What has made IVF particularly attractive is that currently in the state of Massachusetts, that cost is nearly cut in half thanks to the state-mandated infertility coverage regulations.

Every decision my husband and I have made about our careers in the last nine months has been centered on the fact that we need to remain in Massachusetts, because of the very coverage that’s in place. Senator Brown, if you propose legislation that would discontinue coverage for IVF, I simply cannot afford to have children, IVF or otherwise. This legislation would take away my ability to a basic human right: the right to build a family. The next best solution for us would be to uproot and move to another state with the next best health care regulations in place (in this case, New Jersey or Connecticut). In this economy, looking for a new job isn’t easy, to put it plainly: just ask my husband, who is still unemployed after nearly a year since being laid off. How can this be something you endorse – legislation that denies individuals the right to build families or drives them out of the state to find appropriate coverage?

Senator Brown, I implore you not pursue this change in legislation. As a candidate for the Senate seat left by the late Honorable Ted Kennedy, it seems contrary to the legacy of progressive health care reform and support left in his passing.

In the Boston Globe article you state, “My primary responsibility is to ensure that the people of Massachusetts get the best value for their dollar.” How can this be possible when you intend to propose cutting the coverage upon which the people of Massachusetts depend? Perhaps your rationale is that these procedures, like mammograms and minimum maternity stay lengths (as you also intend to propose coverage reductions), aren’t relevant to the entire population of the state. Perhaps infertile women and couples, women at risk for breast cancer, and new mothers make up only a small portion of your constituents, despite the fact that 3.2 million women make up 52% of the state’s population. A reduction in these vital services is quite plainly cutting off the nose despite the face.

Senator Brown, I urge you to reconsider your position on health care coverage reduction in the state of Massachusetts, and I encourage you to contact RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association (www.resolve.org) or its regional chapter here in Waltham, RESOLVE of the Bay State (www.resolveofthebaystate.org) for more information about why infertility coverage matters. I also welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue personally with you and your staff.

Senator Brown, I don’t want to feel like my chances of having a family are being taken away from me for a second time.