TRENTON – Two women’s healthcare-related bills that are a sign of the changing times will be before Senate committees on Thursday.
The Commerce Committee will hear a bill that would mandate coverage of infertility-related procedures by some health insurers, and the Labor Committee will consider a bill barring pregnancy-related discrimination.
One of the lawmakers who is behind each bill talked of S2867 and S2995 and how they reflect societal and workplace changes.
The first bill reflects, among other things, the fact that more women are choosing to attempt childbirth at an older age, and the second acknowledges the economic necessity of women in the workplace.
“Certainly infertility treatments are a growing phenomena because of scientific advances that have taken place over last few years,” Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck said.
“We find as a result of societal changes, as well as economic changes, we have women getting married at an older age than when I was young and bearing children at an older age, or trying to bear children at an older age.”
The bill would require coverage for medically necessary expenses related to diagnosis or treatment.
In New Jersey, the law defines “infertility’’ as a condition affecting a woman under 35 who has been unable to conceive for two years, or a woman over 35 who has been unable to conceive after one year.
Wording in the law does not reflect societal changes, and in regards to infertility does not account for relationships involving two women, or a woman without a partner.
Insurers can limit coverage for in vitro fertilization and other procedures.
The bill would define “infertility” as a condition that results in the abnormal function of the reproductive system or a determination of infertility made by a physician licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey.
The bill would not affect all insurers. It would not pertain to those involved in self-insuring or to larger insurers, which would fall under federal law.
In addition, the bill includes an employer exemption – such as a church – for religious purposes.
“These are bills that are really about family values,” Weinberg said about infertility coverage and combating workplace discrimination.
“If we want to build families and we want more gender equity where women can build careers and have children, or have to work because of the economy, then we have to make accommodations so that they can be off their feat as need be or doing light duty or having another place to go to put their feet up,” Weinberg said.
That bill would have an employer make “reasonable” accommodations when requested by a worker under advice of her doctor.
Weinberg, and S2867 co-sponsor Sen. Nia Gill, (D-34), Montclair, have introduced proposals protecting women’s health care concerns before, notably a bill requiring coverage of ultrasound breast screenings when dense tissue is involved.
That bill was passed in the Senate last year 39-0, then moved to the Assembly where it has undergone amendments.
They also have battled each year for restoration of millions of dollars for family planning, pointing out that millions more in matching federal funds are jeopardized as well due to administration cuts.