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Bill that would have mandated insurance coverage for fertility treatment fails; supporters continue fight

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:40 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Infertility can be devastating for couples desperate for a family, and there are all kinds of reasons women seek treatment. With that in mind, Tara Brandner approached the legislature with House bill 1147.

The bill would have increased the amount of insurance coverage offered for fertility treatments and would have extended coverage to cancer patients.

Lawmakers voted against the bill today, so Brandner says it’s back to the drawing board to get ready for the next legislative session.

Infertility is a tough pill to swallow.

“It’s really like living all steps of the grief cycle, every single month over and over. You get your hopes up, and the doctors get their hopes up that something’s going to work this time for you. And then, you get another pregnancy test that’s negative. And, it’s just heart-shattering,” said infertility patient Kayla Dornfeld.

Kayla Dornfeld is on her fifth try. “It’s honestly just an emotional roller coaster that I would wish on nobody,” said Dornfeld.

Dornfeld and her husband are finally in a hopeful place. But, they’re also out $20,000.

Tiffany Olsen has a different story. She found out she had breast cancer in 2005, two weeks after getting married.

“Your whole future is before you. And then immediately, everything you thought you had planned, you question. Will that happen? Will I even survive? If I do, will we be able to have kids?” said Olsen.

Before she could treat the cancer, she says she needed to come up with the money for fertility preservation. Luckily, family helped her raise the money through a gofundme.

“It gives you, kind of, a reason to keep fighting-- to want to survive,” Olsen said.

Today, Olsen has a little girl named Lola. But, Tara Brandner says no one should have to go through what Dornfeld or Olsen went through.

“When people receive the diagnosis of infertility, there’s no further insurance coverage. It’s one of the only diseases that has this attached to it,” said Tara Brandner Primary Constituent of House Bill 1147 and Everlasting Hope President.

Brandner’s bill would have mandated insurance coverage in both situations.

Insurance agencies opposing the bill say mandated coverage of the disease “threatens the efforts of all health care stakeholders to provide consumers with meaningful health care choices and affordable coverage options.”

The bill failed.

“That’s an individual choice and an individual decision but we shouldn’t be mandating that these costs be put onto the other payers across the state of North Dakota,” said Rep. Robin Weisz.

Still, Brandner says her efforts weren’t in vein. Through the process, she established “Everlasting Hope”-- a place for those struggling with fertility to come together, find answers and get assistance.

This was the second time Brandner has presented the bill, and she says she’ll be back next session as well.

In the meantime, she says Everlasting Hope will continue speaking with businesses and insurance companies about making the change outside of legislation, adding infertility coverage on as a benefit. For more information on Everlasting Hope, visit raisingeverlastinghope.org.

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