Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Contraceptive Equity - A Topic for the Speaker's Circuit, But Already Resolved in Texas

You can often determine what are the 'hot topics' of the day in the employment law field by the subjects being featured prominently in the many CLE and other educational conferences being held. The topic of contraceptive equity, a movement designed to require that insurance cover contraceptives taken usually by females, seems to be having its day in the sun. The argument got a shot in the arm with the 1998 introduction of Viagra, which is generally covered by employer sponsored insurance programs whereas many such programs regularly exclude contraceptives. The movement originally fueled by unions has been successful in a number of states, including Texas, in getting such legislation passed. The Texas legislation was H.B. 2382 in the 77th legislative session. Now the topic is in for more discussion as the ABA airs a teleconference on June 4th where it is the sole subject of discussion. Although I didn't find it on the ABA web site, their e-mail indicated the following objectives and panelists:

Learn from this program:

* The latest developments - pending lawsuits, new legislation, and trends in adding coverage

* Does Title VII require contraceptive equity from employers? Arguments pro and con

* Are there legitimate cost concerns employers should consider?

* Interplay between Title VII and ERISA issues

* Are there any other valid reasons not to include prescription contraceptives in an otherwise comprehensive health plan?

Judith C. Appelbaum
Vice President, National Women's Law Center
Washington, DC

Howard Shapiro
Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
New Orleans, LA

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