Perseverance Finally Pays Off in Texas!
Cancer patients across the state of Texas have just gained important protections to help safeguard their ability to become parents after cancer treatment.
Led by bill authors Representative Angie Chen Button and Senator Tan Parker, HB 1649 passed the Texas House and Senate by wide margins, and Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 13, 2023. The law will apply to all state regulated large, small, and individual group health insurance plans issued after January 1, 2024. Coverage will be limited to those receiving a medically necessary treatment for cancer and includes coverage for sperm, egg, and ovarian tissue preservation.
The recognition of fertility preservation as an essential facet of cancer care over the past decade or so has unleashed a movement to secure insurance coverage for medically necessary services that patients need to protect their potential for biological parenthood after cancer. Tremendous progress has been made since 2017 when Connecticut and Rhode Island became the first states to require this benefit. With the enactment of SB 1649 in Texas, 14 states now have passed coverage laws.
The initial efforts to pass fertility preservation legislation in Texas started in the lead up to the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature. According to the Texas Cancer Registry, 7,800 adolescent and young adult Texans between the ages of 15-39 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Even though Texas is home to a number of nationally renowned oncofertility centers of excellence across the state, we continually heard from providers that the lack of insurance coverage is a major barrier for cancer patients who wanted to preserve their fertility.
Texas has a strong network of cancer advocates, nonprofits, and institutions that came together to begin working on fertility preservation legislation five years ago. Even though, despite our best efforts, earlier bills failed to advance out of the House of Representatives during the 2019 and 2021 sessions, the Texans Protecting Parenthood After Cancer coalition was determined to keep advocating for coverage.
This year the legislation finally broke through. During the 2023 session, Texas House and Senate committee members heard compelling testimony from AFP advocates Haleigh Curlee from Bedford, Texas and Tom Whiteside from Austin. Texas oncofertility experts Dr. Terri Woodard from Houston and Dr. Karen Albritton from Fort Worth were able to share the positive impact that this coverage would have on their patients with lawmakers. The Alliance for Fertility Preservation was proud to play a leadership role in the passage of HB 1649 in Texas and would like to thank all of the legislators, advocates, patient, and provider organizations and institutions in the Lone Star State that made it happen.
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