On Wednesday, the Senate Health Committee, in an 8-2 vote, approved Senate Bill 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act, to ensure all women and pregnant people have access to abortion services regardless of an individual’s income, status, race, zip code, or bank account.
This bill would prohibit a health care service plan or an individual or group policy of disability insurance that is issued, amended, renewed, or delivered on or after January 1, 2022, from imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement on coverage for all abortion services, as specified, and additionally would prohibit cost sharing from being imposed on a Medi-Cal beneficiary for those services. The bill would apply the same benefits with respect to an enrollee’s or insured’s covered spouse and covered nonspouse dependents. The bill would not require an individual or group health care service plan contract or disability insurance policy to cover an experimental or investigational treatment.
“California has long been a leader in protecting an individuals right to access reproductive health services and almost 50 years since the Supreme Court established the legal right for abortion,” stated Gonzalez who said barriers still continue including affordability such as high co-pays ranging from $40 to thousands of dollars.
Gonzalez stated that according to a study UCSF of 1,000 women seeking abortion across 30 facilities across the country showed that half the women had out of pocket expenses of more than 1/3 of their monthly income.
“These high out of pocket costs are a significant barrier to the cost of care for low income families,” stated Gonzalez. “SB 245 will remove this barrier and allow all Californians a legal right to reproductive healthcare services.”
Democrat Senators Susan Eggman, Lena Gonzalez, Connie Leyva, Monique Limon, Richard Pan, Richard Roth, Susan Rubio and Scott Wiener were in favor while both Republicans on the committee, Shannon Grove and Melissa Melendez voted against.
Original Press Release:
Sen. Gonzalez Introduces SB 245 the Abortion Accessibility Act on the 48th Anniversary of the Landmark Roe v. Wade Court Decision
January 22, 2021
Sacramento, Calif. – Today, on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach) introduced Senate Bill 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act to ensure all women and pregnant people have access to abortion services regardless of an individual’s income, status, race, zip code, or bank account. The proposed legislation builds on the foundational premise of reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy upheld in the 1973 court decision and takes it a step further by requiring health care service plans or disability insurance policies to cover abortion services without a co-payment, deductible, or any type of cost-sharing requirement.
California is one of six states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion, but many patients are burdened by deductibles that cost hundreds of dollars, and in some cases over a thousand dollars, resulting in lack of access to care for those who cannot afford it. In order to ensure cost is no longer a barrier, the Abortion Accessibility Act would not only remove cost-sharing from an individual’s health plan but would also apply cost-sharing protections to a health plan enrollee’s covered spouse and dependents, and to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the inequities that exist within our healthcare system, and unfortunately, reproductive care is not the exception to these shortcomings,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Everyone should have the right to make their own decision about when, if and how to start a family. Yet when it comes to Black, Latinx, Indigenous, trans and non-binary individuals, people with disabilities, young people, low-income and rural families and women of color—that choice, that constitutional right can quickly disappear under the financial strain of co-payments, deductibles and debt. It is heartbreaking to imagine the devastating stress and crushing uncertainty that individuals have to go through, as they rush to save funds in hopes of getting the care they need. If our state is to be a true leader and defender of reproductive freedom, then we must ensure care for those who need it most.”
Reproductive rights and healthcare advocates express their support for the Abortion Accessibility Act and highlight the importance of this proposed legislation.
“As we celebrate the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must acknowledge that for many people, abortion access is already out of reach despite the right to safe, legal abortion. The same is true even in California,” said Jodi Hicks, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “We know for many people with low incomes and Black and Brown people, already forced to navigate a legacy of racist and discriminatory systems, barriers like affordability can significantly impact access to care. We thank Senator Gonzalez for introducing SB 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act, which will help break down barriers to care and expand access so that reproductive freedom is a reality for every person.”
“NARAL Pro-Choice California and our more than 295,000 members are committed to ensuring that every body in California is able to access abortion care. While we’re proud that California is a national leader on abortion rights, without access to affordable care the right to abortion is a right in name only,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “We cannot truly be considered a reproductive freedom state until all Californians are able to access—and afford—abortion care. By removing cost barriers to abortion, this bill is an important step toward guaranteeing that all Californians, regardless of their financial circumstances, have equitable, timely access to the care they need.”
“At the core of reproductive justice is the right to have children, not have children, and the ability to raise your family with dignity. The Abortion Accessibility Act uplifts these values by allowing people to make their own decisions about if, how and when they are going to start or continue their family free from the shame of not being able to afford vital healthcare,” said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness Action Project. “We want to thank Senator Gonzalez for boldly introducing this bill that is continuing the path to true reproductive freedom in the State of California.”
“ACCESS Reproductive Justice is thrilled to have the Abortion Accessibility Act introduced today by Senator Gonzalez,” said Jessica Pickney, Executive Director of ACCESS Reproductive Justice. “On our healthline, we regularly hear how high co-pays and deductibles—anywhere from $50 to over $2,000—present an immense barrier to our callers as they try to obtain the abortion care they desire. Everyone deserves the right to get their abortion without facing any barriers, including financial barriers presented through cost-sharing.”
“As an organization that defends the right to health, we are delighted to be part of this effort to make abortion more available to all Californians irrespective of how much they earn or what type of health insurance they have,” said Fabiola Carrión, Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program. “In the midst of a public health emergency, we should remove all barriers to health care access.”