RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association calls on Hawaii Legislature to Increase Access to Infertility Medical Treatments

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RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association urged patients and the medical community to call upon the Hawaii state legislature to pass two bills that would increase access to infertility medical treatments: HB 2355/SB 2909 would update the Hawaii infertility mandate, and HB 2061/SB 2694 would be a new insurance mandate for fertility preservation for cancer patients before starting their cancer treatments.

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Two bills have been introduced that are important to Hawaii residents diagnosed with infertility and those that want to preserve their fertility after being diagnosed with cancer.

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association urged patients and the medical community to call upon the Hawaii state legislature to pass two bills that would increase access to infertility medical treatments: HB 2355/SB 2909 would update the Hawaii infertility mandate, and HB 2061/SB 2694 would be a new insurance mandate for fertility preservation for cancer patients before starting their cancer treatments. This important call to action took place during the Annual Meeting for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“One in eight couples in the U.S. have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Eight states have insurance mandates that cover IVF, including Hawaii. Yet Hawaii residents still have trouble accessing the medical care they need due to restrictions in the mandate,” said Barbara Collura, President/CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “Two bills have been introduced that are important to Hawaii residents diagnosed with infertility and those that want to preserve their fertility after being diagnosed with cancer. RESOLVE continues to mobilize doctors, patients, and the entire infertility community to ask their elected to support this legislation.”

SB 2909/HB 2355 would improve the current IVF mandate in Hawaii. Among the changes, it increases the coverage from one IVF cycle to three IVF cycles, and the waiting period before accessing IVF from five years to one. Cancer patients are increasingly accessing fertility preservation medical procedures before starting cancer treatments, yet insurance does not cover it. SB 2694/HB 2061 would mandate insurance coverage for fertility preservation for cancer patients in Hawaii. If passed, this would be the first mandate of its kind in the U.S. Both bills must be re-introduced in the new legislative session in 2015.

“I am proud that Hawaii is only one of eight states that has an infertility mandate. While the law is not perfect, I am grateful that Hawaii is a leader in this area, having experienced my own hardships with infertility. When I think of those suffering from cancer, who are now being discriminated against because insurance companies will not cover fertility preservation, I knew that HB 2061 was needed. Hawaii has been a leader in infertility coverage, and there is no reason we shouldn't be a leader in fertility preservation," said Representative Sharon Har (District 42), who shared her reasons for introducing HB 2061 last session.

“As a result of improved screening, many different types of cancers are being diagnosed when patients are in their reproductive years. With early detection and prompt treatment, many cancer survivors are living normal lives beyond active cancer treatment. As an oncology nurse, I’ve taken care of young adult patients who are diagnosed with cancer and who undergo cancer treatment, which has the potential to make them infertile. The expensive out-of-pocket costs is the most frequently reported barrier preventing patients from preserving their fertility prior to the start of cancer treatment,” said Ally Andres, RN, who lives in Honolulu.

“The Hawaii IVF insurance mandate was enacted in 1989, yet it has never changed. It still does not cover the basic needs of infertility patients. It is time for the law to be consistent with current medical practice,” said John Frattarelli, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Institute of Hawaii in Honolulu.

“I am blessed with two beautiful children as I was fortunate to benefit from the infertility mandate. Every patient’s situation is different, and improving the mandate would give patients hope and help them achieve their dream of being a parent,” said Chris Yoshiyama, a resident of Honolulu who shared her own infertility story.

Advocate Pi’ilani Smith has worked closely with Senator Maile Shimabukuro to draft and introduce SB 2909, which updates the current IVF insurance mandate. “The current law is discriminatory,” said Ms. Smith, who passionately shared her reasons for wanting the law changed. “It creates class discrimination amongst women as the law states you must be married and use your husband’s sperm. Infertility of one woman, is infertility of all women. Infertility does not discriminate. In Hawaii if we are for one woman, we need to be for all women; one family, all families.”

For more information, visit http://www.resolve.org.

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Diana Cummins
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
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