Oregon Contraceptive Coverage Law Moves One Step Closer to Approval

May 21, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A bill that would give prescription contraceptives the same insurance coverage as other prescriptions won a victory in the Oregon House and now only needs the Governor's signature.

Governor Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign the bill, which garnered a 49 -9 vote in the House.

The bill would only apply to insurance plans regulated by state law and the coverage for contraceptives may be subject to provisions of health benefit plans, including copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance.

In March, a federal appellate court said that Union Pacific Railroad’s health insurance plan violated no civil rights because the plan didn’t pay for contraceptives – either for men or women. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the “coverage provided to women is not less favorable than that provided to men” (See Union Pacific Ex-Contraceptive Policy Upheld ).

In 2005, the New York City transit union filed a federal lawsuit against the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), charging that the agency discriminates against female employees by not covering contraception, because it does pay for men’s Viagra (See NYC Transit Employees Allege Sex Discrimination in Contraception Coverage ).

In 2005, the New York state appellate court rebuffed objections from religious-affiliated employers by upholding a law that required employers to provide prescription insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Under the 2002 law, a religious employer whose main purpose is to promote its theological values is exempted, while one that runs hospitals or offers social services as part of its ministry cannot qualify for the exemption.

The law, which was drafted as a women’s health and gender equity measure, exempts qualified religious employers, but only to the extent that the inculcation of religious values is their main mission and they primarily employ and serve members of the same faith (See Empire State Appellate Panel Backs Contraceptives Coverage Law ).