Richmond, Va.— Today, the Virginia Senate passed HB1896 repealing the ban on abortion coverage on the Commonwealth’s healthcare insurance exchange. The bill, patroned by Delegate Sally Hudson, passed on a party-line 22-17 vote in the Senate and could make Virginia the first state in the South to repeal the coverage ban.
Both HB1896 and its companion, SB1276, passed in the House on Tuesday, heads to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk. If he signs the bill into law, Virginia will make history again by eliminating the politically motivated ban that prohibited private insurance companies from offering plans on the exchange that cover abortion care.
In Virginia, abortion is the only medical procedure banned from coverage on the exchange, which prohibits consumers from using their own private dollars to purchase the coverage.
Currently, the ban disproportionately impacts people who are employed without insurance, underemployed, unemployed, or self-employed and purchase their insurance through the state exchange. The pandemic has increased the number of people seeking coverage on the exchange, further increasing reproductive healthcare disparity.
“Repealing the ban is long overdue, and I’m proud that Virginia is leading the charge. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but this is a big step in securing comprehensive reproductive care for all Virginians,” says Del. Hudson
“We are thrilled that this discriminatory and dangerous abortion coverage ban has successfully made it through both chambers of the General Assembly and is now headed to Gov. Northam’s desk where he no doubt will sign it into law,” stated Executive Director Tarina Keene.
“Delegate Hudson deserves major kudos for her victory today and those legislators who voted to put healthcare decisions back into the hands of patients and families. This ban was the ultimate government overreach and should never have been put into law, but today, the people have spoken.”
“No person ever plans on having an abortion, but when they need one, it should be safe, affordable, and accessible. Bans on abortion coverage based solely on ideology are dangerous political interference and put people’s lives and health at risk. Today’s passage of HB1896 will allow those who get their health insurance on the state exchange to have the option of purchasing this important coverage.”
With Virginia’s new pro-choice trifecta in the House, Senate, and Governor’s mansion, the Commonwealth is pushing forward a proactive policy agenda that centers Access for All, which is a campaign to ensure every Virginian has access to the reproductive healthcare they need and want. With Roe v. Wade hanging by a thread, Virginia needs to establish itself as a safe haven for safe, legal, affordable abortion care. In 2020, Virginia’s General Assembly started making progress with this agenda by passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act, which removed several harmful barriers to abortion access in the Code of Virginia.
NARAL Virginia’s 2021 Access for All agenda also includes allowing Medicaid insurees to receive 12-months of birth control at one time (SB1227), establishing a Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Team (HB1950), and creating the Imprisoned Pregnant Persons Workgroup (SB1300) to ensure equitable reproductive healthcare for incarcerated people.