Clinic Campaigns to Improve Equity in Access to Fertility Care in Connecticut

Hartford Capitol
The Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford.

The Connecticut General Assembly is considering legislation that would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to provide access to fertility care through its Medicaid program.

HB 6617, An Act Promoting Equity in Coverage for Fertility Health Care, would also require insurers to provide coverage for single and LGBTQ+ people to access the medical care necessary to build their families. Yale Law School’s Reproductive Rights and Justice Project clinic (RRJP) has been a founding leader in the Fertility Access Connecticut (FACT) campaign to advocate for the bill, which it has been working on since spring 2022. The first public hearing on the bill was held on Feb. 28. 

“The right to have children is an important, often overlooked part of reproductive justice,” said clinic student Nina Leviten ’23, “Through working on this bill, I have learned more about the current barriers in accessing fertility care, especially for low-income Americans. This legislation ensures more equity in access to such essential care.”

Fertility care is not accessible for most people without fertility insurance coverage because paying out of pocket is prohibitively expensive. HB 6617 would address the limitations of Connecticut’s current law which excludes coverage for fertility care entirely under HUSKY Health and typically excludes LGBTQ+ and single people from coverage requirements for private insurers.

A recent research study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology by a team including the RRJP’s Clinical Lecturer in Law, Katherine L. Kraschel, suggests that states with insurance mandates that exclude their Medicaid programs may exacerbate racial disparities in accessing fertility care.

“While insurance mandates like the one we have in place today have increased access for some, they have failed to address stark racial disparities in utilization of fertility care services. Black and Latinx women are more likely than white women to experience infertility yet less likely to receive care once diagnosed,” Kraschel said. “While this is a multidimensional problem, data shows that Black and Latinx people disproportionately access care through Medicaid and have been excluded from Connecticut’s law, so it’s not surprising these disparities persist when HUSKY is exempt from providing coverage.”

In addition to expanding to Medicaid, the bill would remove barriers to care for single and LGBTQ+ seeking medical care necessary to build their families. Under the current state mandate, private insurance companies are only required to cover fertility treatments for people who have been diagnosed as “infertile.” Infertility is defined in reference to heterosexual intercourse, so LGBTQ+ and single people who need to access fertility care are often excluded.

“From researching public insurance mandates in other states to writing talking points to building coalitions, my work on this legislation has changed the way that I understand the barriers to reproductive care and, hopefully, will lead to a more equitable future for Connecticut families,” said Jake Mazeitis ’23.

Clinic students were instrumental in drafting the legislation, researching similar laws in other states, building the campaign of organizations to support the legislation, drafting legislative testimony, and are doing ongoing work to educate the public and legislators about the importance of equity in fertility care.

Over the past year, the student team included Isaac Barnes ’24, Gabrielle Jackson ’23, Arianna Khan ’25, Allura Landsberg ’25, Nina Leviten ’23, Scott Lowder ’24, Jake Mazeitis ’23, Domenica Merino ’24, and Sarah Nealon ’23. Kraschel supervised the students.

FACT includes the Center for Reproductive Rights, Equality Connecticut, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Health Law Program, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, RESOLVE New England, and others.