Two bills have been introduced in the Nevada Legislature that would require employers to expand contraception coverage in the medical insurance they provide for their employees, regardless of the religious background of the employers.
Assembly Bill 249 and Senate Bill 233 were heard in the Assembly and Senate Health and Human Services Committee early this month.
Current law allows businesses to be exempt from covering contraceptives for its employees on the basis of religious conscience. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 5-4 ruling that businesses that are operated with a few individuals are allowed to choose not to cover employees’ birth control.
The newly introduced bills, mainly sponsored by three Democratic members of the Legislature, aim to take those exemptions away, and would also expand the coverage that insurance can provide.
For instance, whereas currently individuals can receive a limit of 90 days of birth control prescriptions, the bill aims to expand that to a years’ worth of prescriptions maximum. The bill introduced in the Senate would also require that the employer-provided insurance covers screenings for diabetes, prenatal tests, and counseling for domestic violence, among other things.
“My goal is to make sure that as many women as possible have access to the health services that they need,” said Senator Julia Ratti (D-Sparks), who sponsored SB 233.
However, the bills are being opposed by some conservatives, who say that they are infringing on employers’ religious liberty.
“We are very concerned about the slippery slope we are now on in this state of the erosion of religious liberty,” said Janine Hansen, the state president of Nevada Families for Freedom, during the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee meeting.
Currently, four other states allow patients to receive 12 months of birth control prescriptions.