File photo of Comptroller Sean Scanlon Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Health plans for Connecticut state employees have been modified to extend fertility treatment coverage to LGBTQ+ members seeking to start families, Comptroller Sean Scanlon announced during a Thursday press conference. 

The change impacts an existing requirement that members unsuccessfully try to conceive a child for 12 months before gaining access to fertility coverage. In order to extend coverage to all members, the modification broadens the language to include members who are unable to achieve pregnancy either as individuals or couples because they do not have the “necessary gametes.”

“The policy is very clear that, no matter who you love or who you are, if you want to have a child, you can have a child through the fertility services that we offer to the state employees,” Scanlon said. 

Although the comptroller was unsure what the change would cost the state, he told reporters he expected his office would be able to fund the modification within its current budget. 

“We wanted to lead with the correct policy and we’ll figure out the cost of that after the fact,” he said. 

Scanlon, whose office oversees health plans for more than 265,000 public sector workers and retirees, said he quickly worked to remove the barriers after he was contacted by state employee Julia Famularo. 

During the press conference, Famularo said she and her wife were surprised to find the coverage requirements for fertility treatment under the prior state employee health plan policy created a significant barrier for them.  

“For us, that meant that if and when we wanted to pursue fertility services, we would need to fund IUI — intrauterine insemination — out of our own pockets for 12 months before the plan would pay for our health care,” Famularo said. “That alone could amount to at least $26,000 in a year.”

The changes enacted by Scanlon mirror some of the goals of a bill proposed this year by Rep. Jeff Currey, an East Hartford Democrat and member of the legislature’s LGBTQ+ Caucus. Currey’s bill, which expired on the House calendar at the end of the session, was broader and impacted fertility treatment under Medicaid.

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On Thursday, Currey said questions and discrepancies regarding the proposal’s expected costs stymied the bill’s progress. However, he hoped the change to the state health plan would help ease passage of his bill in the future. 

“Oftentimes, common sense is kind of hard to find in that this is just equalizing the playing field and simply allowing people to start families who otherwise haven’t been able to,” Currey said. “I think with Sean setting the table today, it’s hopefully going to clear up a lot of those issues and bring people back to the table.”

In addition to changing the fertility treatment coverage policy, Scanlon announced his office would be reviewing other policies to ensure that they are inclusive of all state workers.

“This was the thing that we spent the last three weeks intensively doing but we’re now doing a comprehensive review of the entire policy to make sure that everybody who is a state employee can get the health care that they frankly deserve based on who they are and who they love,” Scanlon said.