Women's health bills ceremonially signed into law
WARWICK, RI - Three women's health bills passed by the General Assembly were ceremonially signed into law today by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo in the lobby of the Women's Health Practice at Kent County Hospital. The governor was flanked by bill sponsors, medical professionals, women's health advocates and the president of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization of Women.
The governor signed legislation requiring health insurers to provide a full year of access to contraceptive care (S 2529 SUB A, H 7625 SUB A/ Euer, Goldin, Sosnowski, Coyne, Seveney, Kazarian, Tanzi, Fogarty, Hearn, Ajello), legislation that removes barriers to safe and affordable mastectomies (S 2224, H 7002 SUB A/ Gallo, Nesselbush, Goodwin, Calkin, Crowley, Shekarchi, Ajello, Tanzi, Fogarty, Lima), and legislation that allows pregnant minors to access prenatal care without parental consent (H 7193 SUB A, S 2531 SUB A as amended/ McNamara, Ajello, Donovan, Ruggiero, Vella-Wilkinson, Goldin, Sosnowski, Miller, Crowley, Goodwin).
"This bill makes it clear that insurers must cover all of the costs of mastectomies, without copays and deductibles," said Leader Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), who made H 7002 SUB A a top priority this year. "Breast cancer is a very emotional cancer, one that can leave even those who fight it very successfully with a tremendous feeling of loss. That loss should not be compounded by struggles to pay for their treatment, heal and recover their lives."
"We all know someone who has fought breast cancer, and we try to offer them hope, strength and support. Today we are relieving them of a huge financial burden that adds to their struggles. No person who is experiencing breast cancer and has to have a mastectomy should also have to worry about how she is going to pay for it. Insurance should be covering this procedure adequately, so that people fighting cancer can concentrate on their health and not the financial implications of their surgery," said Senator Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), sponsor of S 2224.
"Prenatal care is critical to the health of babies and mothers alike. There should be no barriers standing between a young woman who is pregnant and the health care that she needs. With this law, we affirm that anyone who is pregnant has the right to seek for herself the care that she needs to have a healthy pregnancy," said Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), sponsor of S 2531 SUB A.
"At the moment a girl below the age of 18 delivers a baby, she has complete medical authority over that child," said Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and sponsor of H 7193 SUB A. "But before this law was passed she needed parental permission for medical services. And there are situations where that young parent cannot get parental consent for a variety of reasons. This law eliminates those barriers so these young women can get access to the care they need."
"This act will allow up to a full year of prescribing and dispensing of contraception when prescribed. With constant threats and attempts from Washington to restrict women's choices concerning their own reproductive health, it is imperative that we ensure Rhode Island's women have open and reliable access to birth control," said Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), sponsor of H 7625 SUB A.
"Politics must not dictate Rhode Island women's health. With this new law, we say, regardless of what action those in Washington may attempt, we will continue to protect the progress we have made toward helping women take care of themselves and responsibly plan whether and when to have children," said Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), sponsor of S 2529 SUB A.
"Politicians in Washington are putting women's health care at risk. I'm proud to stand up with members of the General Assembly to expand access to care and make treatment more affordable for all Rhode Island women," said Governor Raimondo. "These three pieces of legislation are a solid first step, but we must do more to preserve women's access to healthcare. With Justice Kennedy's retirement and President Trump's nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, we must take proactive steps to protect women's rights to choose here in Rhode Island. I look forward to signing the Reproductive Health Care Act as quickly as the legislature can pass it."
"The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women is grateful that the women of our state have a leader who is ready, willing, and able to valiantly defend women's access to healthcare. After the 2016 election when the presidential administration threatened to take away our health care-- including access to birth control-- Governor Raimondo fought back. And she is doing it right now as a proponent of codifying Roe v. Wade at the state level, because the Governor knows that a woman's right to control her own body is one of the most fundamental rights we have," said RI NOW President Hilary Levey Friedman.
"The signing of these bills into law is a significant indication of the collective commitment from the Governor and our elected officials, as well as clinicians at Care New England and throughout Rhode Island, to the importance of issues around women's health," said Maureen Phipps, MD, executive chief of obstetrics and gynecology for the Care New England Health System, and assistant dean for Teaching and Research on Women's Health at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "We proudly support the signing of all three pieces of legislation and cannot overestimate the positive impact we believe it will have on our ability to better serve the needs of the patients and families we care for."
Since Governor Raimondo has taken office, Rhode Island's uninsured rate has dropped from 13 percent in 2013 to less than five percent. Health care premiums through HealthSourceRI are among the lowest in America compared to other ACA health exchanges. And through the Office of the Health Commissioner, Governor Raimondo has taken measures to expand access to care for transgender Rhode Islanders.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903