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ACOG Supports Kerry Legislation to Require Maternity Coverage, End Gender Bias In Individual Market Health Plans

May 5, 2009

Washington, DC -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) today announced its support of the Women's Health Insurance Fairness Act of 2009, a bill introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to ensure women receive equitable insurance coverage in health care reform.

"This legislation is particularly timely as we approach Mother's Day," said ACOG President Douglas H. Kirkpatrick, MD. "As advocates for women's health, we applaud Senator Kerry for ensuring that all women have full access to health care."

For over 30 years, women who work for large employers, or federal, state, or local governments, have been guaranteed maternity coverage, thanks to the 1978 Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But women who are self-employed or employed by small businesses don't have this guarantee, and most individual market health insurance policies don't cover maternity care at all.

"By prohibiting gender rating and ending the practice of considering pregnancy a pre-existing condition in the individual insurance market, Senator Kerry makes clear that insurance companies can no longer deny women coverage because of a current or past pregnancy, or charge a woman more than a man for the very same policy coverage," adds Dr. Kirkpatrick.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization, ACOG: strongly advocates for quality health care for women; maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members; promotes patient education; and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care.