Bill would allow state employees’ insurance, Medicaid to cover abortion


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island state employees and Medicaid recipients could soon have their health insurance cover the cost of having an abortion.

New legislation introduced by Sen. Bridget Valverde and Rep. Liana Cassar would lift a ban that blocks state employees’ insurance and Medicaid from covering abortion care.

“All Rhode Islanders deserve bodily autonomy, including the poor and those who are employed by the state. This ban is a backdoor means of denying reproductive rights, and it should be eliminated,” Cassar said.

The legislation was introduced Wednesday on the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to protect a woman’s right to an abortion ─ Roe v. Wade.

“State employees and Medicaid patients deserve the same coverage as everyone else, but the law prohibits their insurance from providing it,” Valverde said. “These policies result in people and their families being denied access to health care, and in this case, those impacted are disproportionately poorer Rhode Islanders.”

The bill would add Rhode Island to the ranks of 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, whose Medicaid programs cover abortion.

It’s unclear how much of the abortion costs would be covered by insurance or Medicaid.

In the past, Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has said he and many of his constituents are pro-life.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is also pro-life and, in March 2019, voted against a bill that would establish the right to obtain an abortion in Rhode Island, should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned on the federal level. In June 2019, Governor Gina Raimondo signed that bill into law.

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