Free Is (not) A Very Good Price: Oregon Democrats Propose Co-Pay-Free Health Access Bill


The 79th Oregon Legislature got underway on Wednesday and already Democrats want to give away more free stuff to some Oregonians, even though the state is facing an almost $2 billion deficit.

Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, Majority Leader in the Oregon House, posted on item on Facebook on Tuesday (Jan. 30) highlighting a bill before the Oregon Legislature. The bill would require coverage of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health.

The bill, H.B. 2232, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham. It now sits in the  House Committee On Health Care. It would require insurers in Oregon to cover contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-payment, co-insurance or deductible.

The same requirement would apply to a range of reproductive health services, including prenatal care, well-woman visits, screening for sexually transmitted infections, voluntary sterilization and abortion.

A complete list of items and services covered by the bill is provided below.

A story in the New York Times said 30 million women across the country gained co-pay-free access to preventive services like contraception under the Affordable Care Act. “By codifying the protections of the Affordable Care Act, the bill would protect Oregonians’ access to birth control and other preventive health care in the event of a repeal,” the Times reported.

The bill says health care providers will be reimbursed for providing all the required products and services without any deduction for coinsurance, copayments or any other cost-sharing amounts.

Of course, nothing is really free. Mandated free stuff is an illusion foisted on the public by pandering politicians. If the state requires insurance companies to provide products and services for free, and the state promises to reimburse them, the state will have to come up with the money to do that. At this point, nobody knows how much that would be.

But, hey, why worry. H.B. 2232 would give Democrats a chance to cater to a key constituency and the state is only facing a budget deficit of almost $2 billion.


Items and services covered by H.B. 2232

A health benefit plan offered in this state must provide coverage for all of the following services, drugs, devices, products and procedures:
(a) Well-woman care, including screenings, assessments and counseling.
(b) Pregnancy-related services, including pregnancy tests, preconception care, abortion and prenatal care.
(c) Counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including but not limited to human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (d) Screening for:
(A) Chlamydia;
(B) Gonorrhea;

(C) Hepatitis B;
(D) Hepatitis C;
(E) Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome; (F) Human papillomavirus;

(G) Syphilis;

(H) Anemia;
(I) Urinary tract infection;
(J) Rh incompatibility;
(K) Gestational diabetes;
(L) Osteoporosis; and
(M) Cervical cancer.
(e) Screening and appropriate counseling or interventions for:
(A) Tobacco use; and
(B) Domestic and interpersonal violence.
(f) Folic acid supplements.
(g) Breastfeeding comprehensive support, counseling and supplies.
(h)(A) Screening to determine whether genetic counseling related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations is indicated;
(B) Genetic counseling; and
(C) If indicated, BRCA testing.
(i) Breast cancer mammography.
(j) Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling.
(k) Any contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, subject to all of the following:
(A) If there is a therapeutic equivalent of a contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, a health benefit plan may pro- vide coverage for either the requested contraceptive drug, device or product or for one or more therapeutic equivalents of the requested drug, device or product.

(B) If a contraceptive drug, device or product covered by the health benefit plan is deemed medically inadvisable by the enrollee’s provider, the health benefit plan must cover an alternative contraceptive drug, device or product prescribed by the provider.

(C) A health benefit plan must provide coverage without a prescription for all contraceptive drugs available for over-the-counter sale that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(D) A health benefit plan may not infringe upon an enrollee’s choice of contraception and may not require prior authorization, step therapy or other utilization control techniques for covered contraceptive drugs, devices or other products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(l) Voluntary sterilization.
(m) Patient education and counseling on contraception.
(n) Services related to the administration and monitoring of drugs, devices, products and services required under this section, including but not limited to:

(A) Management of side effects;
(B) Counseling for continued adherence to a prescribed regimen

(C) Device insertion and removal;

(D) Provision of alternative contraceptive drugs, devices or products deemed medically appropriate in the judgment of the enrollee’s provider; and

(E) Diagnosis and treatment services provided pursuant to or as a follow-up to a service required under this section.

(o) Any additional preventive services for women that must be covered without cost sharing under the 42 U.S.C. 300gg-13, as identified after the effective date of this 2017 Act by the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.


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