Rep Kazarian introduces Equality in Abortion Coverage Act
The legislation would eliminate sections of law that expressly prohibit state employees’ and Medicaid recipients’ insurance from covering for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered, as required by federal law.
Representative Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence) has introduced the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA)(H5006). Representative Kazarian is the House Majority Whip.
The legislation will ensure that individuals on Medicaid and state health insurance plans have coverage for abortion procedures.
“While I am grateful that Rhode Island has codified Roe V. Wade into state law, access to reproductive health is still not equal in our state,” said Representative Kazarian. “Unless an individual is able to pay the costs out of pocket or is on private insurance, these essential healthcare services are still out of reach for too many Rhode Islanders. With reproductive rights remaining under attack in our nation’s capital, the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will provide total equality for everyone in Rhode Island who needs reproductive health services access.”
“The Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will eliminate all bans on abortion coverage in Rhode Island,” said Nicole Jellinek, Chair of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. “Today, state laws prohibit nearly 1 in 3 Rhode Islanders – people enrolled in Medicaid and state employees – from using their health insurance to cover abortion. This ban is discriminatory and racist, reinforcing inequity and health care disparities in our state. Our Coalition of more than 20 organizations stands with the 72% of Rhode Islanders who agree that Rhode Islanders with health insurance through Medicaid or the state should receive the same coverage for abortion services as those insured by private health insurers.
“We believe that medical decisions should be private between a person and their health care provider,” continued Jellinek. “Everyone in our state deserves to make healthcare decisions that are best for them and without political interference. We are grateful to Whip Kazarian for her leadership and introducing the EACA and thank all the sponsors in the House who have committed to passing this critical policy. Together, we’ll work to eliminate barriers to sexual and reproductive health care and expand access to abortion.”
The legislation would eliminate sections of law that expressly prohibit state employees’ and Medicaid recipients’ insurance from covering for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered, as required by federal law. In compliance with the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion services, it adds language that specifies that no federal funds shall be used to pay for them, except as authorized under federal law.
The bill would add Rhode Island to the ranks of 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, whose Medicaid programs cover abortion.
Representative Kazarian also notes that this is the only medical procedure that is carved out of the state laws regarding health insurance coverage. She adds that excluding state employees and low-income patients from having insurance coverage for reproductive health services is unfair and wrong.
Cosponsors of the legislation are Repspresentatives Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket), Leonela Felix (Democrat, District 61, Pawtucket), Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence), Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown), Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren), Joshua Giraldo (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls) and Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport).
In years past the EACA failed to pass out of the House when the legislation was submitted by [former] State Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence). Representative Cassar declined to run for re-election last election.