A powerful Louisiana Senate committee has struck down a proposal that would have required insurance companies to cover fertility preservation measures for cancer patients who are about to undergo radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments that would render them sterile.
The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee considered last week House Bell 537 Too expensive for the state, which had to pay state employees and public school teachers to receive coverage. Louisiana also had to cover the extra costs of private health plans purchased from the state insurance exchange.
Many Louisiana health insurance plans do not currently cover egg and sperm extraction from people who have to undergo medical treatment that leads to infertility. This includes cancer patients, who have to pay out of their pocket to maintain their chances of having children.
The failed legislation, sponsored by Representative Paula Davis, Republican Baton Rouge, was intended to close the coverage gap for new health plans in 2023 and existing health plans in 2024.
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Davis had scaled back her proposal significantly over the past few weeks in hopes of getting at least one narrow set of insurance-covered fertility services. An earlier version would have mandated coverage of a broader range of infertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization, for couples who are not in same-sex relationships.
Davis’ initial bill was based on a similar law in Texas, which requires private insurance plans to pay for in vitro fertilization in some cases. Arkansas also requires that health care plans cover parts of those treatments, according to proponents of the proposal.
Lawmakers are actually among the relatively few people in Louisiana who have some fertility treatments covered by their insurance plan. LSU first — which provides health care coverage to LSU employees, legislators, and legislative staff — is the only state government plan that voluntarily pays for infertility services. A few private insurance companies in the state also cover it on a voluntary basis, but not some of the largest providers.
With her broader proposal, Davis faced opposition from insurance companies, Catholic bishops, and Louisiana Right to Life, a leading anti-abortion organization. Insurers have said that providing IVF coverage would be very expensive and would increase premiums by a few hundred dollars.
Catholic bishops and Louisiana’s right to life have a moral objection to in vitro fertilization, which often results in the destruction of embryos. Ben Clapper, executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life Foundation, said his organization considers embryos to be human-like, making their disposal a problem.
A few lawmakers were outraged by opposition from the Catholic Church and anti-abortion advocates. House Speaker Pro Tempore Tanner Magee, of R-Houma, said the church has always been willing to accept a tuition check for his three daughters to attend Catholic school, even though they were conceived using in vitro fertilization.
“If they’re really against it, they shouldn’t take my money,” Maggie said on the House floor before the bill was voted on. “To sit here and tell me that my three beautiful girls are somehow not normal is the most hurtful, ridiculous, and outlandish thing.”
However, in order to give the bill a better chance of passing in the Senate, Davis eliminated the requirement for insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization and many other fertility treatments. The latest version of the legislation mandates coverage only for the extraction and freezing of eggs and sperm separately – not as a fertilized egg or embryo.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee were unwilling to pass the bill with state government fees, and also refused to approve it if state employees and public school teachers were removed. Davis was willing to exempt health plans offered by the Office of Collective Benefits — which provides insurance for most state employees and public school teachers — from proposed fertility preservation requirements in order to keep state costs low, but committee members did not. Align with this hack.
Supporters of the bill argued that the estimated case cost of providing fertility treatment was overstated.
The financial analysis of the impact on health plans on the state insurance exchange — estimated to be between $1.6 million and $4.9 million annually by mid-2026 — is based solely on data provided by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, a firm that lobbied against Davis’ legislation. This has led some lawmakers to question whether the state’s financial analysis is accurate.
“People who don’t want to do it because it’s going to cost them more are collecting the numbers we thought we were counting on,” Senator Gary Smith, D-Norco, said during a hearing last week. “So this whole thing is a scam.”
The Louisiana Department of Insurance told Smith that the federal government requires it to use information from Blue Cross and Blue Shield when calculating the impact of insurance plan mandates.
“If they give us the wrong number, the feds are asking us to accept that,” Frank Opelka, deputy commissioner in the insurance division, said at a hearing last week. “I’m not telling you I agree with that.”
Former Representative Julie Stokes, a breast cancer survivor and cancer advocate, said she also believes the estimated cost of covering fertility preservation services for state employees and teachers at the Office of Collective Benefits also appears high.
Advocates believe that only an estimated 2,200 people a year, including those in the private sector, were able to take advantage of Davis’ recently introduced fertility preservation coverage. However, the Office of Collective Benefits estimated that it would spend up to $1.8 million annually on treatment. This is much more than has been seen in other states, Davis said.
“It’s usually one cent per member per month to five cents per member per month in other countries,” she said.
Although her bill expired this year, Davis is expected to ask lawmakers to approve it Study the cost of imposing an insurance clause to cover infertility treatmentsincluding in vitro fertilization, so you can get more accurate cost estimates when preparing next year’s proposal.
The repercussions of combating infertility have spilled over into other legislative issues. the home Legislation now lifted Significant to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Buddy White, R Baton Rouge, as punishment for killing Bill Davis.
House leadership refuses to move White’s controversial bill to redraw Central City’s public school boundaries to exclude a planned neighborhood with many black residents. Democratic and Republican lawmakers, particularly from the Baton Rouge area, opposed the legislation, which opponents described as racist.