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1/5/2023 Whip Kazarian introduces Equality in Abortion Coverage Act
STATE HOUSE – House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) has introduced the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (2023-H 5006).
The legislation will ensure that individuals on Medicaid and state health insurance plans have coverage for abortion procedures.
“While I am grateful that Rhode Island has codified Roe V. Wade into state law, access to reproductive health is still not equal in our state.  Unless an individual is able to pay the costs out of pocket or is on private insurance, these essential healthcare services are still out of reach for too many Rhode Islanders.  With reproductive rights remaining under attack in our nation’s capital, the passage of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will provide total equality for everyone in Rhode Island who needs reproductive health services access,” said Whip Kazarian.
“The Equality in Abortion Coverage Act will eliminate all bans on abortion coverage in Rhode Island. Today, state laws prohibit nearly 1 in 3 Rhode Islanders — people enrolled in Medicaid and state employees — from using their health insurance to cover abortion. This ban is discriminatory and racist, reinforcing inequity and health care disparities in our state. Our Coalition of more than 20 organizations stands with the 72% of Rhode Islanders who agree that Rhode Islanders with health insurance through Medicaid or the state should receive the same coverage for abortion services as those insured by private health insurers. We believe that medical decisions should be private between a person and their health care provider. Everyone in our state deserves to make healthcare decisions that are best for them and without political interference. We are grateful to Whip Kazarian for her leadership and introducing the EACA and thank all the sponsors in the House who have committed to passing this critical policy. Together, we’ll work to eliminate barriers to sexual and reproductive health care and expand access to abortion,” said Nicole Jellinek, Chair of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.
The legislation would eliminate sections of law that expressly prohibit state employees’ and Medicaid recipients’ insurance from covering for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered, as required by federal law. In compliance with the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion services, it adds language that specifies that no federal funds shall be used to pay for them, except as authorized under federal law.
Cosponsors of the legislation are Reps. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Reps. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

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

Whip Kazarian also notes that this is the only medical procedure that is carved out of the state laws regarding health insurance coverage.  She adds that excluding state employees and low-income patients from having insurance coverage for reproductive health services is unfair and wrong.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903