AIA Advocacy Report

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Posted by Robert Spolzino, Esq. (legislative counsel for AIA) on July 17, 19100 at 10:16:02:

Advocacy Report
Disappointed is not a strong enough word for how we felt at two o’clock in the
morning on June 23rd, when the New York State Senate adjourned without passing an
infertility insurance bill that the Assembly could agree on. Although infertility insurance
was a hot topic for the last two weeks of the session, and we were told that significant
negotiations on our issue, involving Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor George Pataki, were going on until two hours
before the Senate adjourned, no agreement was reached before the Senate left for,
possibly, the rest of the year.
The stumbling block continues to be the religious exemption clause, the same issue that
has divided the two houses of the legislature since February, when both passed
different versions of the legislation. Basically, the Senate supports the position of the
New York State Catholic Conference that the Catholic Church and similar religious
entities should not be required to provide insurance for procedures, such as in vitro
fertilization, that they find to be morally objectionable. The Assembly refuses to pass a
bill that contains such an exemption, taking the position that the insurance is provided
for individuals who may or may not share the entity’s moral beliefs, but should not be
excluded from insurance for their disease. The result is an impasse that has thus far
prevented the adoption of an infertility insurance law in New York this year.
AIA’s goal throughout this debate has been to work toward the adoption of any bill
that both houses can agree on, whether it contains a religious exemption clause or not.
The reason for this approach is simple. Since even the broadest conscience clause that
has been discussed would apply only to employees of religious entities and those who
are insured by religiously-affiliated insurers, the number of infertile couples that would
be excluded from coverage by a religious exemption is far smaller than the number of
couples that are currently unable to obtain insurance without the legislation. As a result,
AIA has taken the position that either version of the bill would be acceptable, since it
would provide substantial benefits to many infertile couples who currently have no
The unfortunate result of this whole debate, however, is that it has not been beneficial
to any of the parties who have worked seriously and hard to solve the problem. The
infertile community has been denied legislation that all sides otherwise recognize is
necessary. The Catholic Conference has been forced into an unfortunate dispute with
the Orthodox Jewish organizations that have supported our effort, organizations with
which the Catholic Conference generally agrees more than it disagrees. The Senate
and the Assembly have been frustrated in resolving an issue that both sides say they
want to resolve. The only winner in all of this has been the health insurers and HMO’s,
who once again are able to avoid providing the benefits they should be providing for the
disease of infertility.
Despite our frustrations, however, we should not fail to recognize how far we have
come since this effort began. A year and a half ago, the New York State Legislature
was not even talking about legislation to require infertility insurance coverage. Today,
the Senate and the Assembly agree that infertility insurance legislation is required.
Although they can’t yet agree on the specific terms of that legislation, they were talking
about it in the last few moments of this year’s legislative session.
Our goal now is to get the Senate and the Assembly to continue to talk about the need
for infertility insurance and to take up the issue as soon as they reconvene – whether
that is in September, December or January. Our plan is to keep the parties talking until
an acceptable compromise is reached. We cannot let the insurance companies and
HMO’s continue to be the only winners.

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