Lawmakers began pressuring the federal government to provide better access to assistive reproductive technologies in 2022.

Lawmakers began pressuring the federal government to provide better access to assistive reproductive technologies in 2022. Peter Hansen/Getty Images

Senate plans swift action on IVF bill containing new requirements for FEHBP

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that he had already begun the process of bringing a legislative package aimed at protecting Americans’ access to assistive reproductive technology to the floor for a vote.

Senate Democrats have vowed to move quickly on legislation protecting Americans’ access to in vitro fertilization and other forms of assistive reproductive technology, including a provision expanding federal workers’ access to those treatments as part of the government’s employer-sponsored health insurance program.

On Monday, Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., introduced the Right to IVF Act, a repackaging of three separate previously introduced bills on reproductive health services        .

Included is the Family Building FEHB Fairness Act, first introduced last year by Duckworth, which would require the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to cover additional costs associated with IVF, and would expand coverage to all types of assisted reproductive technology, such as gamete and zygote intrafallopian transfer.

“In the nearly two years since the Supreme Court threw out Roe v. Wade, our nation has seen the horrific consequences of Republicans’ anti-science, anti-woman crusade that has put IVF at risk for millions of Americans who rely on it to start or grow their family,” Duckworth said. “Struggling with infertility is painful enough—every American deserves the right to access the treatment and tools they need to build the family of their dreams without the fear of being prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. I’m proud to unveil this sweeping legislative package with my colleagues that would actually protect the freedom to receive or provide IVF nationwide, while making these treatments more affordable and accessible for millions of American families, including military families and veterans—who are experiencing infertility across the country.”

Lawmakers began pressuring the federal government to provide better access to assistive reproductive technologies in 2022, when they first asked the Office of Personnel Management to require insurance carriers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to improve their coverage of the procedures and related medications. Beginning this year, all FEHB carriers are required to cover artificial insemination, drugs associated with artificial insemination, and IVF-related drug costs for three cycles annually.

In April, lawmakers again asked OPM to expand IVF coverage under the government’s employer-sponsored insurance program, this time pushing for carriers to “fully” cover the procedure and related drugs.

Democrats’ renewed focus on assisted reproductive technologies comes in part from a February ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that endangered its legality and temporarily halted IVF services in the state. The state legislature ultimately passed legislation to protect those treatments in March.

As the Senate prepares to consider legislation aimed at protecting Americans’ access to contraceptives, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced he would move swiftly to bring the IVF package to the floor.

“I intend to bring this legislation protecting access to IVF up for a vote very soon,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Millions of Americans have relied on IVF to have children. But after a stunningly radical decision by the Alabama Supreme Court that jeopardized access to IVF, families are rightfully worried that this option will be stripped away. Senate Democrats will act to safeguard and strengthen IVF access for all Americans, so that everyone has the chance to start a family.”

In a statement, Murray accused a competing Republican measure an ineffectual “PR tool.” The IVF Protection Act (S. 4368), introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Katie Britt, R-Ala., would punish states if they ban IVF by making them ineligible to receive Medicaid funding, but does not actually codify Americans’ access to IVF services.

“Republican attacks on reproductive rights since the Dobbs decision have not stopped at abortion—their relentless crusade to criminalize basic reproductive health care and give embryos the exact same rights as living, breathing human beings has put IVF in jeopardy and endangered the lives of pregnant women,” Murray said. “[Unlike] GOP legislation that would not protect IVF and is only a PR tool for Republicans to hide their extremism, our Right to IVF Act would actually protect Americans from attempts to restrict IVF and would allow more people to access these vital services at a lower cost.”