Bills stipulate all health insurers must make rider policies available to women

LANSING — State Representative Pam Faris (D-Clio) and State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) urged action on legislation requiring health insurers in Michigan to offer the “abortion rider” that women must have in order to be fully covered during a miscarriage or abortion, even in cases of rape and when the woman’s health is in jeopardy. The abortion rider policies became necessary when Republicans passed a law in 2013 demanding that women buy the extra insurance in order to have full coverage, but so far, just eight of Michigan’s 42 health insurers actually offer such a policy, meaning it’s impossible for many Michigan women to have full health care insurance.

“It was incredibly discriminatory for Republicans to pass a law requiring women — and only women — to buy an extra insurance policy for complete health care coverage when they already knew that most insurers didn’t even offer such a policy,” Rep. Faris said. “The very least we can do is ensure that all insurers actually offer these extra insurance policies so that women can get the health care coverage they need. Women facing a miscarriage or recovering after rape need medical help, not the runaround from their insurance company.”

The “abortion rider” law was passed in 2013, after the special interest group, Right to Life of Michigan, gathered signatures for a citizen’s initiative. Legislators had a choice between caving into their demands or doing the right thing for Michigan women and letting voters decide on the measure. Despite the public outcry, including testimony from former legislators who became pregnant after rape or who needed medical intervention during a miscarriage, Republicans did Michigan Right to Life’s bidding and passed the law. Gov. Rick Snyder and former Gov. John Engler vetoed identical legislation as being too extreme and wrong for Michigan. Gov. Snyder even cited the law’s lack of exception for rape or incest as the reason for his veto.

“The law requiring women to purchase an extra insurance rider for comprehensive health care coverage puts women’s lives at risk, plain and simple,” Sen. Warren said. “It has now been more than a year since this extreme and discriminatory law took effect and the reality is that this separate policy is not even offered by most insurance companies. That means that the vast majority of women in Michigan, including those who need assistance during a miscarriage or who face serious medical complications, must pay out of pocket in order to get the vital care they need.”

The introduction of Rep. Faris’ and Sen. Warren’s bills follows the introduction of a bill earlier this year by Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) that would repeal the controversial law altogether.

“Since the law was passed, the number of insurers offering the optional rider has increased from seven to just eight, which means full health care coverage is still out of reach for many women in the state,” Rep. Roberts said. “Without proper care following a miscarriage, a woman’s health — and maybe even her life — are at risk. A woman who becomes pregnant after rape deserves all the medical care she needs to regain control of her life. I am still fighting for repeal of this cruel law, but in the meantime, we must ensure women at least can purchase the health care they need.

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