Newsom signs bill to stop health insurance companies, plans to charge abortion co-payments, fees

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that officials say will reduce barriers to reproductive health care in California, including eliminating out-of-pocket fees for people seeking abortions and related services through health plans.

The Abortion Accessibility Act, SB245, prevents health insurance companies from charging co-payments, deductibles, and other fees for abortions, and prohibits them from imposing risk management practices. utilization to covered reproductive health services, Newsom’s office said in a statement.

Co-payments and deductibles can exceed $1,000 and tend to become more expensive as the fetus develops, often putting pregnant women who need or want abortion services in a position where they cannot. afford reproductive care, officials said. SB245 will ensure that anyone seeking abortion services in California will have “autonomy over their own body and the ability to control their own destiny,” first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom said in a statement.

The bill was drafted by State Senator Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, and will go into effect early next year. It comes as some other states have imposed restrictions on abortion access amid a national debate over the future of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Abortion is a constitutional right up to the point of fetal viability.

Barriers to abortion, including high costs, disproportionately affect people of color, low-income people, LGBT people and people with disabilities, Gonzalez said in a statement.

“Through this legislation, we will help ensure fair and affordable access to abortion services so that out-of-pocket costs do not prevent people from receiving care,” Newsom said in a statement. California is one of six states nationwide to require health insurance plans to cover abortion services, officials said.

The California Future of Abortion Council, an advisory group focused on reproductive health care, recommended the bill’s passage last year as a way to make abortion services more affordable and accessible. Newsom signed a Reproductive Freedom Proclamation in 2019 — a symbolic commitment to preserving choice and access to reproductive health care.

“The elimination of abortion fees for those with private insurance is a major step in California’s commitment to be a state of reproductive freedom – making abortion services more accessible and affordable for all people. people of California,” Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a statement Tuesday. “SB245 means more Californians will be able to access the care they want, when they want it.”

Separately, State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, on Thursday proposed a bill that would create a state fund to support people who travel to California for abortions. SB1142, by State Senator Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, would establish a fund that would help pregnant women who have been denied abortions in other states pay for travel, housing, food, child care and other services while seeking reproductive care in California.

Andy Picon (he/him) is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @andpicon

Kristan F. Talley