New bill aims to cover fertility care costs for Maine families

The bill is getting some pushback from groups who are worried about how it will impact...
The bill is getting some pushback from groups who are worried about how it will impact insurance premiums for small businesses.(WMTW)
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:58 AM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - Families who are struggling to get pregnant and women who attempt to undergo in-vitro fertilization understand that it can be a costly process. L.D. 1539 “An Act to Provide Access to Fertility Care,” is a state bill that would require it to be covered by health insurance here in Maine.

Jill Schacht lives in Saco with her husband and two boys. She had her first son Harrison naturally back in 2017.

They wanted him to have a sibling and realized that having another baby was not as easy the second time. After trying, then speaking with her doctor, Schacht realized that due to her age, they’d have to go through the process of IVF. The process cost their family $50,000.

Schacht said, “I think [it’s] very tricky to wrap your mind around this miraculous thing you want to happen, but you have to put a price tag on it. Really all you want is to get pregnant and have a baby.”

Schacht’s family had the financial means to afford the cost of IVF, and she now has her son Oliver.

“We have this amazing person who completes our family and he’s the sweetest,” Schacht said. “I mean what would you say to a mom who couldn’t afford it?”

Organizations like the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Hospitality Maine are against the passage of the bill. They’re asking Mainers to contact their senators and support the bipartisan “ought not to pass” report.

The director of Government Affairs with Hospitality Maine released a statement saying, “While the association is very sympathetic to the plight of individuals facing fertility challenges, this mandate could very well be the most expensive added to premiums in years.”

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce says if passed, LD 1539 would be a permanent increase to health care premiums. They say it would reduce the impact of temporary programs like the Small Business Rate Relief Program, implemented by Governor Janet Mills and the BOI, that would provide up to $40 million in direct premium reductions to employers and employees.

The Chamber’s Advocacy Team released a statement saying in part, “Passage of LD 1539 would take away a portion of that direct relief and require every individual and employee to pay for the mandate – even if they never have or intend to use it.”

They add that the cost for some, would become so unaffordable and result in the loss of health care insurance coverage altogether.

The bill sponsor, Colleen Madigan, says the bill passed the House last Thursday.

If both the Senate and House agree on passing the bill, then it will go to the governor’s desk for her signature.

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