Health care lobby pushes back on LGBT fer­til­ity bill

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - STATE - By CATHY BUSSEWITZ

HONOLULU — Health care lob­by­ists in Hawaii are push­ing law­mak­ers to kill part of a bill that would ex­pand ac­cess to fer­til­ity treat­ments to same-sex couples who want to have a child.

They’re say­ing re­quir­ing in­sur­ers to cover fer­til­ity treat­ments for ges­ta­tional car­ri­ers that male couples rely on could lead to le­gal prob­lems.

Un­der Hawaii law, in­sur­ers are re­quired to cover one round of in vitro fer­til­iza­tion for some mar­ried, het­ero­sex­ual couples. Ad­vo­cates from the gay and les­bian com­mu­nity are push­ing for equal ac­cess to that money-sav­ing ben­e­fit.

A Hawaii bill would ex­tend the IVF cov­er­age man­date to same-sex couples and sin­gle women. It also would make Hawaii the first state to re­quire cov­er­age for sur­ro­gate moth­ers, which could help male couples who need a sur­ro­gate to carry a child. But health care lob­by­ists are push­ing to re­move part of the bill that ex­tends the cov­er­age man­date to ges­ta­tional car­ri­ers, say­ing Hawaii law has no le­gal pro­tec­tions for sur­ro­gates be­cause the state law is si­lent on the is­sue. They say the state should write laws on ges­ta­tional car­ri­ers be­fore making in­sur­ers cover pro­ce­dures for the group.

“When you start think­ing about it there are so many po­ten­tial is­sues that to pass a law just seems a lit­tle bit pre­ma­ture,” said Beth Gi­est­ing, lob­by­ist for Hawaii As­so­ci­a­tion of Health Plans, which rep­re­sents the ma­jor health in­sur­ers in the state. “With­out that le­gal in­fra­struc­ture, the po­ten­tial for wad­ing into a lot of prob­lems — not just for in­sur­ers, but also for the providers and for the sur­ro­gates and the in­tended par­ents — it’s just a very un­set­tling sit­u­a­tion.”

In­tended par­ents and ges­ta­tional car­ri­ers need to be on the same page about what they’ll do if there are mul­ti­ple fe­tuses, ge­netic is­sues or a sur­ro­gate who changes her mind about giv­ing up the baby, she said. With­out laws on the topic, in­sur­ers fear they could be caught in the mid­dle of le­gal bat­tles.

Mandy Finlay, ad­vo­cacy co­or­di­na­tor ACLU of Hawaii, called the in­sur­ers’ ar­gu­ment a “des­per­ate, last minute at­tempt by an in­surer to put profit over equal­ity,” say­ing they’re push­ing back on the sur­ro­gacy as­pect of the bill be­cause their other ar­gu­ments against the pro­posal failed.

Ques­tions about what would hap­pen un­der the sce­nar­ios Gi­est­ing out­lined are cov­ered in pri­vate agree­ments ex­e­cuted be­tween in­tended par­ents and ges­ta­tional car­ri­ers, and those agree­ments are rec­og­nized by state courts when as­sign­ing parental rights, said Carol Lockwood, a part­ner with Honolulu law firm Sch­lack Ito.

Associated Press

Sean Smith, left, and Kale Tay­lor, right, pose for a photo with their son, Char­lie Tay­lor, while on va­ca­tion in St. Louis. Smith and his hus­band Tay­lor paid more than $20,000 in Hawaii for a fer­til­ity pro­ce­dure when they de­cided to have a child us­ing a sur­ro­gate mother.

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