American Samizdat

Monday, February 26, 2007. *
Every few months, Linnea Osterberg's pharmacist takes pity on her and gives her a break on the cost of the birth control pills she takes to control her severe cramps. Try as she might, the self-employed photographer from Portland hasn't been able to find a health insurer offering an individual plan that will cover the cost of contraceptives -- in her case, nearly $600 per year. "Even if my doctor writes a letter saying why birth control is being prescribed, they plain old don't care," said Osterberg, 31. "They will not cover it, no ifs, ands or buts."

Bills that would solve her problem by requiring private insurers to cover the costs of prescription birth control have been floating around the state Capitol in one form or another since 1993, only to die quietly in one committee or another. But 14 years on, with Democrats in control of the House, Senate and governor's office for the first time in years, it looks like the proposal has some real traction. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in front of the House Human Services and Womens' Wellness committee. [...]

Throughout the years, Oregon opponents of the bill have included the quietly influential Catholic lobby, thanks to the church's opposition to all forms of contraception, and private health insurers, who tend to bristle at any talk of government mandates. [...] "We have moral issues with mandating contraception," said Kelsey Wilson, who lobbies for the Catholic Conference. "We are still exploring the issue."
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:19 AM
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