June 12, 2009

Gillibrand Announces Legislation to Ensure Families Struggling With Infertility Can Afford New High-Tech Treatments

Thousands of Couples Are Denied Coverage Every Year, Forced to Spend Thousands Pursuing Their Dream of Starting a Family

Washington D.C. -U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing today that she will introduce The Family Building Act to ensure that men and women who suffer from infertility can afford the cost of advanced high-tech treatments. Originally introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Anthony Weiner, this legislation would help 1 in 8 American couples that are affected by infertility. Despite infertility's far reach and breakthroughs in successful new treatments, insurance companies still deny coverage.

"Thousands of women struggle with infertility each year, with insurance companies denying access to the fertility treatments that make the difference for so many," Senator Gillibrand said. "This legislation will give women and couples more options and bring the dream of raising a family within reach for more New Yorkers."

Rep. Weiner said, "The costs of having fertility treatments can be staggering, but children are priceless. Wealth should not determine who can and who cannot fully exhaust the medical treatments available to people who want to have a child."

The majority of group health plans do not provide coverage for infertility treatment, hindering people's ability to get tested or receive the treatments that are recommended by a doctor. As technology in the field advances, so do the costs, which can range into tens of thousands of dollars. Only 12 percent of infertile individuals nationally receive full coverage for their treatment, and only 25 percent of health care plans cover fertility at all.  A poll conducted by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, showed that lack of insurance coverage kept 63 percent of people who suffer from infertility from seeking treatment.

Recent improvements in technology and treatment techniques such as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) have made pregnancy possible for more couples than ever before. Overall, 44 percent of the women who sought ART procedures became pregnant, among the highest success rates for any medical condition.  In 2006 alone, 54,000 babies were born as a result of the ART treatment.

The Family Building Act would expand coverage to millions of New Yorkers, whose insurance carriers are either currently exempt from providing any fertility benefits at all under existing New York State law, or only provide benefits for the most basic treatments. The legislation would require insurance carriers to provide benefits for the advanced, often necessary, and highly effective, ART treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). The bill does not confine eligibility for coverage within a certain age range.

"RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association applauds Senator Gillibrand for her compassion in understanding the needs of New York State residents and couples across the country who desire to be parents, but cannot due to the high cost of a medical diagnosis of infertility," said Barb Collura, Executive Director for RESOLVE. "Lack of insurance coverage is an extraordinary burden for these would-be parents, most of whom should be concentrating on their medical treatment, not on how to pay for it."

Senator Gillibrand is a dedicated voice for improving the lives of New York children and families. Just last week, she unveiled her three-point plan to help families struggling with autism - co-sponsoring legislation to mandate insurance companies cover effective autism therapies, authoring legislation to require TRICARE - the military health insurance program - to cover autism therapies, and calling for more federal funding for autism research so scientists and laboratories get the resources they need to make the next breakthrough in autism treatments.