January 31, 2012 — A Washington Senate committee on Monday passed a bill (S 3723) that would require health plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion care, the Tacoma News Tribune's "Political Buzz" reports. The bill, which now heads to the Senate floor, would exempt certain religiously affiliated plans. In addition, one multistate plan available in Washington would not cover abortion care.
Although most health plans in Washington already cover abortion care, supporters of the bill say it would ensure that plans do not drop the coverage to avoid administrative requirements under the federal health reform law (PL 111-148).
Opponents say the bill would restrict health insurance options for employers that oppose abortion coverage (Krell, "Political Buzz," Tacoma News Tribune, 1/30).
A House version passed out of committee last week and could face a floor vote in coming weeks.
If enacted, the legislation would make Washington the first state to require health plans offering maternity coverage to also offer abortion coverage, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Washington (AP/Seattle Times, 1/26).