How to advocate for IVF coverage in your state

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I first learned about Stacy Ochoa and her advocacy for IVF coverage in Oregon about a year ago and have been following her work since then. She is the co-founder of Oregon Fertility Advocates, a grassroots movement to pass legislation that would mandate Oregon insurers cover infertility, including IVF.

A Q&A with Stacy Ochoa, co-founder of Oregon Fertility Advocates

For more context and sound bites from the video, read on.

Wait – even if you have insurance coverage and need IVF, it might not be covered?

Yep. IVF is more likely not to be covered than it is to be covered. Even if you have cancer and need fertility preservation before undergoing chemotherapy and radiation; even if you have done everything to get pregnant and cant; even if you can get pregnant but can’t bring a pregnancy to term; even if you are the carrier of a terrible genetic disorder and could use IVF to prevent passing down the disease.

Individual states can decide whether insurance companies must offer IVF coverage and whether any of it will be paid for. Currently, only 19 states have passed infertility coverage laws, with only 13 of them including IVF coverage. Surprisingly, the West Coast is far behind the East Coast. While California mandates some infertility coverage, it does not mandate IVF coverage. Oregon and Washington have neither an infertility nor IVF insurance coverage mandate.

Fertility activism in Oregon

Last year, Stacy had enough of dealing with her insurance company’s lack of IVF coverage after a long battle with the disease of infertility. She did some research and saw Senator Lee Beyer had introduced a bill in 2019 that would mandate IVF insurance coverage. She reached out to him to learn more. It was too late in the session for that bill, but they worked together to introduce Senate Bill 168, which would have amended Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act to include coverage of fertility and reproductive endocrinology services. It did not pass.

In a twist of events, even though Senate Bill 168 did not pass last session, the Oregon Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB), which covers all State employees and all university employees, added an IVF benefit. Starting this year, all Oregonians who work for the state or the university system have $35,000 to use for IVF each year.

What’s next? Senate Bill 1530

This session, Stacy and activists have put their support behind Senate Bill 1530, which would impact the 150,000 Oregonians who buy insurance on the marketplace by mandating insurance cover three rounds of IVF.

Unfortunately, the bill has stalled after opposition, including opposition from several progressive groups that are against the bill having a religious exemption. Stacy says, “I don’t love religious exemptions for anything, especially for reproductive health care, but unfortunately, as we all have heard of cases like Hobby Lobby … that is just precedence in this country.

There are there are laws that are on the side of religious organizations and not including that, if the bill could have even gotten through without any religious exemption, it would be challenged legally in court, and we would not win.

So, we had a religious exemption and we tried to amend it and amended to really make it as strict as possible, it got down to the point where anybody who did not cover this would have to actually pay a fee to the state to help cover people.”

You can still voice your support of SB 1530 by emailing Senator Rob Wagner ([email protected]) and telling him you support Oregonians having the healthcare they need for the disease of infertility.

Do you want to advocate with your state for IVF coverage?

Download Resolve: The National Infertility Association’s State Advocacy Toolkit here.

If people aren’t speaking up, then the insurance lobbies will win, the other lobbies will win.

Stacy Ochoa

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