NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify the General Assembly’s schedule.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sen. Sandra Cano learned she had a pregenetic condition soon after she became pregnant with her first child.
The condition, she explained, increases the risk of her having a child with a disability.
Thankfully, Cano said her first child Arianna was born healthy.
But moving forward, she decided she wasn’t going to take any chances.
“If I expand my family, I want to be able to have a healthy baby,” she explained.
That’s why Cano chose to undergo in vitro fertilization.
“It allows you to not have to go through that anxiety,” she said.
The procedure, according to Cano, allowed her to have her eggs genetically tested to ensure that the embryos weren’t impacted by her condition.
Cano said while it gave her peace of mind, the procedure was expensive.
“Just to get it altogether it was $4,000, and it was $600 per egg,” she explained.
Dr. Gary Frishman, a fertility specialist with Boston IVF, tells 12 News there has been a 15% increase in demand for the procedure since the start of the pandemic.
He explained that by screening the embryos for chromosomal errors, the couple can decide beforehand whether to move forward with the pre-tested egg.
“Couple have the option to do with that embryo what they wish,” Frishman said, adding that their options are to either refreeze, implant or discard the egg.
While Cano’s bills have since been paid, her goal is to make embryo testing more accessible for women, especially those in similar situations.
Right now, she said in vitro fertilization isn’t covered by health insurance in Rhode Island. Cano introduced a bill earlier this year that would require insurers to cover embryonic genetic testing.
The legislation unanimously passed the Senate last month, but it’s currently stuck in the House.
AHIP, an insurance advocacy group, told House lawmakers that the legislation “will lead to higher premiums, harming affordability and access for small businesses and individual market consumers.”
Albert Charbonneau, executive director for Rhode Island Business Group on Health, agrees.
“There’s no free lunch,” he said. “If you add a little bit to a premium here, you may be bumping somebody off health insurance … you may be raising a deductible.”
If the bill doesn’t clear the House before the end of the legislative session, it will need to be reintroduced when the General Assembly reconvenes next year.