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Illinois Senate bill builds hope for infertility patients

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(The Center Square) – Illinois state Sen. Cristina Castro is working to build support for legislation that would remove insurance obstacles for families and women with infertility.

Castro hopes to join forces with the sponsors of other infertility-related bills, drawing further attention to a widespread problem.

It was a personal struggle that helped inspire Castro, D-Elgin, to address the hurdles that confront those dealing with infertility, who may be required by insurance companies to endure numerous tests, not required by their doctors.

“It’s a very difficult topic to talk about but shedding some light on the struggles people face, particularly women of color, is very necessary in order to address the problem and remove the barriers to care,” Castro said in an interview with The Center Square.

Castro explained that women of color often face physical, environmental and financial issues that can impact fertility.

Sponsored by Castro, Senate Bill 2623 would require that companies with more than 25 workers provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility, including injectables to improve glucose levels. It tackles underlying issues that can promote infertility, such as diabetes and obesity, while also providing free annual menopause checkups for those 45 and older.

Anticipating that this type of bill will draw bipartisan support, she said the issue, “in regard to women’s health care, is one that affects everybody, every woman you can think of regardless of party affiliation.”

The road to reality for this bill currently involves negotiations with insurance companies, and they have not closed the door in opposition, she said.

“I think there’s an opportunity here to work in addressing this issue with them,” Castro said.

Castro also is working with the sponsors of other women’s health bills – including state Sens. Mike Hastings, D-Frankfort, and Natalie Toro, D-Chicago – on comprehensive legislation that might win favor. Sponsored by Hastings, Senate Bill 2639 would prioritize doctor’s orders, rather than insurance protocols, in treating infertility, even where it pertains to the lab-fertilization method known as IVF.

Toro focused Senate Bill 2623 on covering the costs of freezing eggs with no restrictions based on age, sex or marital status. This would help cancer patients whose fertility is threatened by radiation or chemotherapy.

Castro’s bill remains in the Senate’s Insurance Committee.