HB 186: Louisiana lawmaker revamps fertility preservation bill

Should insurance companies cover the cost of fertility treatments? A Louisiana lawmaker is fighting to make it happen.
Lawmaker revamps fertility preservation bill
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 11:27 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - State Representative Paula Davis has a strategy to give Louisiana residents access to affordable fertility treatments.

“Once the session does begin, I plan to file two separate bills. One for fertility preservation and one for IVF. Just to keep both of those issues clean and separate from one another and hopefully to get both bills through,” Davis said.

She filed House Bill 187, related to fertility preservation, for the upcoming 2023 legislative session. It’s a revamped version of House Bill 537. The proposed legislation (HB 537) faced financial hurdles from Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Department of Insurance before it stalled last year.

It also met moral opposition from Louisiana right to life and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In their religion, and respectfully so, they just don’t believe that IVF is part of the natural family planning process and also they have issues with the creation of embryos and embryos that are not used. Even though Louisiana does have the strictest embryo law in the country, where you cannot destroy embryos here,” Rep. Davis explained.

Louisiana Right to Life writes on its website, it believes the bill “would have led to more frozen embryos with an uncertain future.”

To that, pastoral counselor and mental health specialist Patsy Brown urges others to keep an open heart.

“You can’t tell God how to create life.” Brown stated. “He created the female uterus and the doctors have awareness and insight and I’m grateful for those doctors who studied and who are willing to help men and women, I am so grateful. But you can’t say, ‘it only has to be this way.’ And thank God for the insight for other surgeries. And this is a medical condition. It is not just, ‘well, if it doesn’t happen, it’s just not the will of God for you.’ No, you can’t say that God only does it one way. He has given the doctors the strategies to help women and when all of the medical conditions are met, then you look forward to having the life that He’s going to put in you. The doctors assist in helping us medically and God does the rest but you can’t tell Him He can only do it one way. He has many ways that healing comes to the human body of men and women.”

Brown and her husband have counseled countless couples trying to conceive.

She has seen their disappointment.

“Some have decided that they just can’t afford it and so they don’t pursue it anymore, but the desire is still there,” said Brown.

And she feels their pain, both a health professional and Kristen B. Pleasant’s mom. The uncertainty of parenthood has nagged away at the Pleasant family for six years. Kristen has undergone multiple unsuccessful rounds of In vitro fertilization (IVF).

“It has been a serious walk of faith,” Brown said.

Brown and her daughter testified in favor of House Bill 537 last session because Louisiana law does not require insurers to cover techniques that help with reproduction. The proposed legislation would do so under certain conditions.

“Other states are providing insurance for fertility,” said Brown.

As of June 2022, 20 states passed fertility insurance coverage laws, according to Resolve, the National Infertility Association. Fourteen of those laws include IVF coverage and 12 states have fertility preservation laws for medically induced infertility.

“The doctors have awareness and insight and I’m grateful for those doctors who’ve studied and are willing to help,” Brown shared.