NY City Council’s new package expands abortion access and fertility treatment coverage

“Our lived experiences add to our perspective in a way that has not been done before,” Velazquez said. by Crain. “And now the urgency is here. New York is going to be the state of choice. If you are going to have an abortion, you can get it in a place that is safe and protected. ”

One bill, Introduction 508, will increase people’s access to in vitro fertilization and create a family-building benefit for city workers – which will cover some or all of the IVF treatment, regardless of whether a patient has been diagnosed with infertility. IVF has the potential to be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision because it involves embryos, which can be considered human, said Lynn Schulman of Queens, a law sponsor. by Crain.

In 2020, state legislation required large group insurance policies, including from providers covering city employees, to cover three rounds of IVF – but only for patients diagnosed with infertility. Schulman said Introduction 508 will close the gap in state legislation, meaning LGBTQ + people and anyone not diagnosed with infertility will still not be able to get IVF covered.

Introduction 508 will “correct the wrongs of discrimination against city workers,” Schulman said. “IVF costs an average of $ 17,000 for one round. [The bill] provides opportunities to plan for families more affordably and fairly. ”

The bill was greeted with controversy. At the hearing, Daniel Pollack, first deputy commissioner of the Office of Labor Relations, testified the office has reservations about Introduction 508, arguing that the city already spends $ 11 billion a year on health benefits for employees and dependents. Pollack added that the programs currently in place to cover infertility – including partnering with WINFertility Clinics to help families navigate their options and to cover prescription drugs, injectables and egg preservation – are adequate.

“We currently spend more than $ 100 million a year on fertility benefits for city employees,” Pollack said.

He added that the office will negotiate the benefits with municipal unions as required by law.

“The Adams administration believes all city employees deserve high-quality, affordable and equitable health care,” said Jonah Allon, mayoral spokeswoman. “We are reviewing the bill.”

Councilor Marjorie Velázquez of the Bronx, who underwent IVF treatment and told by Crain she can attest to the high cost of it, responded to Pollack’s statements.

Current programs “are not enough,” she said. “Our health should not be used as a bargaining tool. It will only continue to create more problems. “

The Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health, if codified within the Department of Health by Introduction 490, will connect people with affordable, accessible abortion and health care options; analyze inequalities and access to reproductive services between different communities; and helping people outside the state to access care.

The package also includes Resolution 201-2022, sponsored by the chair of the hospital committee, Mercedes Narcisse. It calls on the state to introduce full insurance coverage for fertility treatments. Narcissus noted that cost is the biggest obstacle for patients seeking treatment for family building.

If Introduction 478 passes, the Department of Health will be expected to run a campaign to raise awareness of how doulas can help during childbirth. It would also create a pilot program to train more doulas to provide free services across the city. Brooklyn Councilwoman Jennifer Gutiérrez said at the hearing that the use of doulas leads to less cesarean sections, healthier birth weights, fewer cases of postpartum depression and increased breastfeeding. The city already has doula programs in place, but one program had a modest goal of reaching 500 people by the end of June. There are 17,000 births a month in the city, Gutiérrez said.

Various bills focus on data collection and dissemination. Introduction 86 will require the Department of Health to educate patients and providers about patients’ rights at birth. Introduction 409 will require the department to publish an annual summary of maternal mortality statistics.

Introduction 482 requires the department to report on patients experiencing polycystic ovary syndrome and other reproductive health issues. The department said it had “operational concerns” with the bill as it did not have a viable data collection mechanism.

Velázquez stressed that New Yorkers urgently need coverage for fertility treatments as well as abortion protection.

“It’s not about me. If I go through this, how much harder is it for families in my district? “Everything was piece by piece and our families deserve better,” she said.

The package will be voted on July 14, she said.

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