Boone senator hopes to revive contraception bill
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Believing that confusion over odd wording led to its defeat last week, Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, hopes to revive a bill that would require health care insurers to cover costs of contraception and maternity care for dependent daughters of insurees (SB169).
The bill was rejected on a 5-6 vote in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee last week.
Stollings said that vote was the result of confusion over the bill's definition of contraceptives as drugs or devices intended to prevent "maternity," rather than "pregnancy."
"Prevention of maternity" somehow got in the bill, as opposed to "prevention of pregnancy," Stollings said.
"We need to get the bill out of Banking and Insurance with the original intent -- conception to prevent pregnancy -- and then get the bill referred to Finance Committee, where it should have been in the first place," he said.
Some senators, he said, were concerned that the bill was not referred to Finance Committee, even though the legislation is projected to cost the Public Employees Insurance Agency $12.6 million over its first three years. That includes $3.6 million for the costs of contraceptives and $9 million for maternity costs for dependants who are currently not covered.
However, Margaret Chapman Pomponio with WVFree said an independent financial analysis indicates that the legislation ultimately would save the state about $19 million a year, by reducing costs associated with inadequate prenatal care for teen pregnancies, resulting in premature and low-weight births.
Julie Archer, with the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, said the legislation isn't pro-abortion, since it covers prenatal and maternal care for dependent daughters who chose to carry their pregnancies to term.
Legislative rules require that the committee take up a motion to reconsider last week's vote at its meeting this afternoon, or the bill will be dead for the remainder of the session.
Also Monday, the Senate:
* Passed 32-0 and sent to the House legislation to overhaul state law for care and treatment of abused or neglected children (SB484).
"It's basically a two-year thought-out product of the Supreme Court and DHHR [Health and Human Resources]," Stollings said of the bill.
Among the key changes is that it establishes timelines for proceedings for juvenile placements and other procedures, he said.
"One of the biggest beefs people have is it takes forever to get through this process," Stollings said.
It also requires that when juveniles are placed in out-of-state facilities, the court orders must provide written explanation regarding why placement in in-state facilities were not possible.
"If they can't place them here, we want to know why," Stollings said of the costly out-of-state treatment alternatives.
* Passed 32-0 and sent to the House a bill (SB409) to change one of the penalties for persons under age 21 convicted for underage possession of alcohol from up to 72 hours in jail or juvenile detention facility to up to 72 hours of community service. The bill maintains the current option of imposing a fine of up to $500 for each violation.
Sens. Douglas E. Facemire, D-Braxton, and Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, were absent.
Reach Phil Kabler at email@example.com or 304-348-1220.