Advocacy Day 2019: ASRM Went to Capitol Hill to Garner Support for New Legislation to Ensure All Americans Have Coverage for Fertility Care
May 16, 2019
Origin: ASRM BULLETIN Volume 21, Number 5
This year’s turnout was the largest to date, with 233 patients and professionals- members of ASRM and RESOLVE from 29 states and the District of Columbia- in Washington, DC yesterday to meet with their Senators and Representatives to let them know how they can help Americans build their families via support for legislation important to the infertility community. Before heading out to the Hill, advocates heard first hand from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a long-time champion of legislation to help the infertility community, about her personal infertility and cancer journeys, and her call to action.
Our most exciting news is that The Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act was introduced in the House and the Senate (HR 2803 and S 1461). This legislation was one of our top priorities for Advocacy Day 2019. It will require all health plans offered on the group and individual markets to provide coverage for the treatment of infertility. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, TRICARE, the VA and Medicaid are also included under the Act. In addition, the Act will require coverage for fertility preservation services for individuals who undergo a medically necessary procedure that may cause infertility, such as chemotherapy.
ASRM issued a press release in which Hugh Taylor, MD, Vice President of ASRM and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine said, “We are immensely appreciative of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of my own state of Connecticut and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey for introducing this legislation with the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of Americans struggling with the disease of infertility. For far too long, too many infertility patients in the US have not been able to obtain insurance coverage for their treatment. Even in states like Connecticut and New Jersey, where state laws mandate coverage of fertility care, exemptions for self-insured plans prevent many patients from receiving that coverage. No one should have to give up on their dreams to have a child because they cannot afford treatment out-of-pocket. We urge everyone to encourage their Representatives and Senators in Washington to support the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act.”
We welcomed a great number of returning advocates and are pleased that more than half of our advocates attended Advocacy Day for the first time. Prior to their meetings, new advocates learned about the legislative process and the importance of advocacy, and how their voice matters in shaping important health care policy. They heard from seasoned advocates about what to expect in meetings on Capitol Hill and how to educate legislators and staff. In interactive sessions, they practiced sharing their personal stories, exploring ways to create connection, and how best to communicate the need for greater access to care and funding for research that will lead to improved reproductive care and new treatments for infertility.
Additional legislative priorities we addressed:
Medical Research Funding, FY 2020 Appropriations. We requested a funding level of $1.6 billion for FY 2020 for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), where most research related to reproductive health and infertility is supported.
The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act, S 319 and HR 955. This legislation will permanently allow Veterans with infertility caused by a service-related injury to access IVF medical treatments. The legislation also eliminates unfair restrictions on those eligible for the benefit at both the VA and under TRICARE. Further, this bill will allow for cryopreservation of gametes pre-deployment and provide adoption assistance.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which will ban discrimination against foster and adoptive parents, families of origin, and foster youth based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and religion, and increase the number of foster and adoptive homes.
PCOS Awareness Month Resolution, H Res 146, which will designate September as PCOS Awareness Month and recognize the need for more education and research on PCOS.
One of the things our advocates- new and experienced- know is that our advocacy work isn’t over after we wrap up on the Hill. It is essential that our advocates stay engaged with their elected representatives and continue to support our Advocacy efforts year-round. Even if you couldn’t make it to this year’s Advocacy Day, there are ways you can still help. ASRM and RESOLVE will continue to building momentum for these legislative priorities and will be sharing ways that advocates across the country can support our efforts.