June 2, 2023

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Disney, Netflix and Comcast say they will cover employee travel to perform abortions

Disney, Netflix and Comcast say they will cover employee travel to perform abortions
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The Walt Disney Company said Friday it will cover employee travel expenses for abortions in light of this Supreme Court decision to drop Roe v. Wadethe latest giant to take this step as companies scramble to adapt to the new reality.

Disney said the benefit covers the cost of “family planning” travel for any worker who doesn’t have access to care where they live, including “decisions about pregnancy.” The company employs 195,000 worldwide, including nearly 80,000 in Florida.

“We recognize the impact of the ruling and remain committed to providing universal access to affordable, quality care for all our employees, cast members and their families, including family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live,” Disney said in a statement to The Post.

A torrent of similar ads were launched on Friday from companies such as Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Comcast, underlining the extraordinary role of US companies in protecting reproductive rights after the Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization Jackson. But these moves may also open companies to public reaction and legal liability as they navigate the rapidly changing landscape of reproductive rights in the United States.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will reimburse up to $4,000 in abortion travel expenses “to the nearest place where such care is lawfully available” for employees, their spouses, and their dependents in State where access is restrictedCEO Lauren Hobart announced on LinkedIn on Friday.

“We understand that people are passionate about this topic – and that there are colleagues and athletes who will not agree with this decision,” Hobart said. “However, we also recognize that decisions about health and family are highly personal and are made with thoughtful consideration. We are making this decision so that our teammates can access the same healthcare options, no matter where they live, and choose what is best for them.” “.

Lyft Express said Friday that the US Medicaid benefits plan includes coverage for “elective abortion and reimbursement for travel costs” if an employee must travel more than 100 miles to an in-network provider.

“Transportation should never be a barrier to access, and we will continue to advocate for the privacy and choice of our drivers, passengers and team members across the country,” said Kristen Svercic, Lyft’s chief business officer. Blog post.

Beginning in July, JPMorgan Chase is expanding travel benefits for any covered service that can only be obtained within 50 miles of an employee’s home, the company told The Post. The policy will apply to US employees enrolled in its medical plan, as well as included partners and dependents.

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“As always, we are focused on the health and well-being of our employees, and we want to ensure equitable access to all benefits,” said Patricia Wexler, head of corporate communications at the investment bank.

comp Roux’s reversal has been planned for weeks — Since a draft court opinion was leaked in early May and Texas passed its own restrictive abortion law earlier this year.

Companies like Apple have said they will cover medical expenses for workers in Texas who may have to go to the state to seek abortions. Salesforce offered to transfer workers.

Amazon said in May it would cover $4,000 in travel costs for American workers seeking medical care, including abortion and transgender surgery. But the policy applies only to employees enrolled in the company’s health care plan, excluding gig workers, warehouse employees and delivery drivers who maintain the e-commerce giant.

The chorus of corporate opposition against the decision centered between the media and technology companies. But with the exception of Dick’s Sporting Goods, the retailers — which make up some of the largest workforce in the country, and employ nearly 18 million Americans, according to IbisWorld — have been largely silent.

Walmart, Target and Kroger did not respond to requests from The Post regarding any changes to employee health plans following the decision.

United for Respect, a nonprofit worker advocacy organization, called on Walmart to step up protections for 1.6 million employees in the United States. The group asserted that Walmart’s presence in the South, where many states have abortion release laws in place, gives the company “an opportunity and a duty to step up and ensure the support of its partners.”

“As the nation’s largest private employer, Walmart executives can set standards for other businesses by supporting their partners, providing adequate maternity and paid sick leave, and covering the cost of expenses for colleagues who need to travel across state lines to access abortion services,” United said. Order of respect Friday in a statement.

Jane Stark, a director at management consultancy BSR, said many HR leaders and other company officials were also busy planning what actions to take.

She said some companies have already made internal announcements about expanding existing health benefits to include travel or access to abortion services.

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“I expect to see over the next 24 to 48 hours more data and more domestic policy announcements becoming public,” Stark said.

For these companies, abortion is treated like an organ transplant. It’s specialized medical care that may not be available near or in the state, so insurance will help cover travel and paid sick leave costs.

“This is the generalization of this kind of care,” Stark said.

Emily Dickens, chair of government affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management, said employers will need to continue to follow local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding abortion.

“New SHRM research shows that nearly a quarter of organizations agree that offering a health savings account to cover travel for reproductive care in another state will enhance their ability to compete for talent,” Dickens said. “However, how these policies interact with state laws is unclear, and employers must be aware of the legal risks involved.”

One of the main questions about liability is whether employers would be at legal risk if they covered the travel expenses of employees in states where abortion is prohibited. Back in May, national law firm Morgan Lewis Warning About considerations for employers if Roe v. Wade is dismantled. There are particular risks in states such as Oklahoma and Texas, where legislation allows individuals to bring civil claims against abortion providers and persons who “willfully aid or abet the performance or abet of an abortion, including payment for abortion, or reimbursement through insurance or otherwise.” “

“For example, a corporation or corporate benefits plan could be said to be in violation of Texas law if it reimburses a Texas resident employee for an abortion received in a state that allows abortion, or for related travel costs,” Morgan Lewis stated. “The Texas and Oklahoma legislative text does not provide a clear answer to this question, nor is it clear whether such a ruling would be upheld.”

Employers who reimburse for medical, surgical, and travel costs associated with an employee’s legal abortion through an employer health plan or other health reimbursement arrangement have some protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

But according to Catherine Bakish, lead health compliance practices at Seagal Group, Iressa’s pre-emptive principles are likely to be thrown to the wolves as courts attempt to untie traps set by the Employers’ Supreme Court by overturning Roe v. Wade.

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“The benefits of abortion services to obstetric care to fertility treatment are likely to be affected by the new decision,” Bakish said. Employers can have employees in countries that recognize abortion rights and prohibit abortion or even criminalize assisted abortion. The critical question to ask is, “How do employers maintain consistency of benefits for employees in states with such diverse Medicare laws?”

In comments Friday about the decision, President Biden said his administration would protect the right to travel for legal abortion.

“If any state or local official, high or low, attempts to interfere with a woman’s exercise of her fundamental right to travel, I will do everything in my power to combat this deeply un-American attack,” Biden said.