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Legislation responds to U.S. Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” ruling that threatens access to basic health care for thousands of Minnesota women
Saint Paul, Minnesota – State lawmakers introduced a proposal today for consideration in the 2015 legislative session to ensure Minnesota women have access to contraception coverage regardless of where they work. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby jeopardizes contraception coverage for Minnesota women by allowing certain for-profit employers to discriminate against female employees.
The CHEER Act would require employer health plans to include coverage for all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraceptive methods and procedures if the employer’s health plan provides prescription drug coverage to its employees. The proposal includes an exemption for non-profit religious employers.
“Minnesota women have the right to make their own health care decisions without interference by their boss. Women shouldn’t be discriminated against for their personal health care decisions, including whether and when to use contraception, said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy. “The Supreme Court’s misguided ruling and inaction in Congress means that we need a state legislature that will step up for basic health care equity for Minnesota women.”
Absent a legislative response, the Supreme Court’s ruling means Minnesota women will have to pay more for life-saving health care treatments than men in identical jobs and other women who don’t require life-saving medications. Danielle Hans joined legislators at the press conference to share how vital contraceptive care is to her health.
“I believe all Minnesotans should have equal access to healthcare, regardless of their employer’s religious beliefs,” said Hans. “Every single one of my friends has benefited from contraceptives in one way or another. And whether a woman uses contraceptives to treat ovarian cysts, endometriosis, migraines, hormone replacement after chemotherapy, or simply to plan a family, it should never be up to her boss to tell her the ‘right’ reason to receive basic health care.”
The Court’s ruling is limited to “closely-held” for-profit corporations, but that definition appears to include numerous, large Minnesota employers as long as they have fewer than 35 shareholders – such companies employ hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans. And the ruling may allow closely-held, for-profit employers to also deny basic preventive health care services like vaccines or HIV treatment for their employees.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling has put access to contraception care for thousands of Minnesota women in jeopardy,” said Lisa Stratton, Director of Gender Justice. “The Minnesota legislature has the opportunity to show leadership on behalf of all women and families by passing a state law that protects the rights of Minnesota women to make their own health care decisions.”
The CHEER Act would include the following:
Murphy said the bill was being introduced now because Minnesotans deserved to know if their legislator plans to act during the 2015 session in response to this important issue for Minnesota women and families.
“Since the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling came down, I have heard from women – and men – expressing serious concerns about what it will mean – for their health, for their families, and for their pocketbooks,” said Murphy. “This is an issue that affects Minnesotans to their core and they are paying attention. Minnesotans deserve to know if their legislators are prepared to make women’s health a priority next session. We are.”
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