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Oregon senators draft new bill: 'The Reproductive Health Equity Act'

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers are not waiting to see what changes President Donald Trump will make to health care policies. The Oregon Senate is already looking at legislation to expand reproductive health care.

Trump has not announced a replacement for the Affordable Care Act yet, but at Oregon's Capitol senators are working on a bill to expand reproductive health care.

The new bill, HB 2232, would require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services.

"I'm excited about the Reproductive Health Equity Act. We call it the equity act of 2017," said bill sponsor Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services spokesperson Jake Sunderland said, "There are a lot of woman's health services required by Oregon law, the key difference is going to be in what is covered with no cost to the patient."

That means no co-pay. Sunderland said if Obamacare is repealed, then insurance companies' reproductive health benefits would diminish.

"It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much these types of services would cost when in Oregon if the ACA were repealed," Sunderland said.

"So we're being proactive in this. We would go this route anyways, whether the Affordable Care Act stays or does go away," said Monnes Anderson.

Abortion coverage is not required by current federal or state law. But Monnes Anderson said the new bill would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act, plus abortion.

"It will add abortion to the list of reproductive health services with zero out-of-pocket pay," said Monnes Anderson.

Gayle Atteberry, executive director Oregon Right to Life said, "Oregon Right to Life is opposed to any measure which requires people to buy abortion coverage."

Oregon Right to Life said they are doubtful the new health services would be free.

"And my wager is that they will be paid for by higher insurance premiums," said Atteberry.

"That's a question that I can't answer today," said Monnes Anderson.

But Monnes Anderson said insurance costs vary depending on insurance plan services that are covered. Money to cover those without insurance would come through the state general fund.

"When you are working with people who go from paycheck to paycheck, it's very difficult for these people to pay for their reproductive healthcare," said Monnes Anderson.

The Reproductive Health Equity Act will go to the house first, that's where more questions will be answered and the language will be fine-tuned. The act does have an exemption in the bill protecting religious beliefs.

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