California Mandates Fertility Coverage for Same-Sex Couples

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gov gerry brown signing billCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill requiring health insurance plans in the state to offer fertility treatment coverage for same-sex couples and unmarried people.

The bill, which goes into effect in January, states that “coverage for the treatment of infertility shall be offered and, if purchased, provided without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”

According to the bill, treatment for infertility means procedures “including, but not limited to, diagnosis, diagnostic tests, medication, surgery, and gamete intrafallopian transfer.”

The law covers artificial insemination, but not in vitro fertilization, which can cost more than $20,000 per attempt.

The legislation, was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. Who is a San Francisco Democrat and gay rights activist, CNS News reported. (Ammiano portrayed himself in a movie starring Sean Penn as openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was killed by a disgruntled former city supervisor.)

“To restrict fertility coverage solely to heterosexual married couples violates California’s non-discrimination laws,” he said in a statement. “I wrote this bill to correct that.”

The bill does contain provisions allowing certain entities to opt out of providing coverage.

It states that the law “shall not be construed to require any employer that is a religious organization” or “any plan, which is a subsidiary of an entity whose owner or corporate member is a religious organization, to offer coverage for treatment of infertility in a manner inconsistent with that religious organization’s religious and ethical principles.”

Roger Good, chief executive officer of HRC Fertility, which runs nine clinics in Southern California, told The Associated Press that about 65 gay women and 275 gay men or gay couples have been treated at his clinics in the last year.