Elected Nashville officials are pushing to extend health coverage to Metro employees who need to travel out of state for medical procedures.
The effort comes as the state has enacted a six-week ban on abortion and is likely to ban the medical procedure almost entirely by mid-August through a trigger law.
Mayor John Cooper’s administration worked with Metro Council members Berkeley Allen, Delicia Porterfield and Erin Evans to formally ask the Metro Employee Benefits Board to expand coverage to more than 15,000 employees, according to a press release.
This coverage will include reimbursement for transportation, accommodation, and related costs for medical procedures not available in Tennessee.
Allen, Porterfield and Evans will file a resolution with the Metro Council asking the benefits board to assess the current availability of benefits for treatments not available in Tennessee. In the event that current benefits do not cover such travel costs, the board will ask for extended coverage.
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“While our ability to protect the right to choose in Nashville is limited by applicable law, we must do everything we can to continue to provide access to health care and safe and affordable care for those who need it,” Cooper said in a statement.
Several companies announced similar policies following the Supreme Court ruling. Amazon, Citigroup, Salesforce, Tesla and Dick’s Sporting Goods are among those who announced they will cover travel expenses incurred by employees who do not have access to safe procedures in their home state.
Francie Hunt, executive director of the Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, said she applauds efforts to expand outreach to Metro employees.
“I hope today’s announcement serves as an inspiration to other local leaders across the state to follow suit and stand up to the outrageous injustices suffered by millions of women across Tennessee,” Hunt said.
The City is “carefully looking into how this ordinance may impact employee benefits” for Metro employees and non-certified MNPS employees who participate in Metro’s payment plans, Metro Human Resources said in an email to The Tennessean on Thursday morning.
“A week ago, every woman in the metropolitan government enjoyed medical benefits that guaranteed access to safe and legal abortion services when medically necessary,” Evans said. “No one ever wants to endure an agonizing choice, but knowing that access to reproductive health services has been a huge comfort to women around the world… If the Council can provide alternatives to the thousands of underground civil servants who no longer have that choice, we must make exactly this”.
Cassandra Stephenson covers Metro government for The Tennessean. Contact her at email@example.com. To follow…