Senator Hegar Files Legislation to Require Insurance Coverage for HPV Vaccine
Republican lawmaker says bill will prevent Governor's Executive Order from becoming an Unfunded Mandate
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Today, Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar (R, Katy) announced that he has filed Senate Bill 815 which seeks to amend the Texas Insurance Code to require that all health insurance plans sold in Texas provide benefits for vaccination against the human papilloma virus and for any related expenses associated with administering the vaccine. Hegar said that his bill was necessary because of Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent Executive Order mandating that all 11 and 12 year old girls receive the Gardasil HPV vaccine before being admitted into the sixth grade.
Hegar, who has helped lead the fight against the Governor's HPV mandate in the Texas Senate, said he filed this legislation so that Texas parents would not be forced to bear the cost of an unfunded mandate. Senator Hegar said that the Gardasil vaccine costs approximately $600 for the required three injections, not including related expenses such as doctor's fees, pregnancy tests, or other related tests that may be required to ensure patient safety. Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil, warns that the vaccine should not be given to any woman or girl who may be pregnant.
"It is my sincere belief that the Texas Legislature will pass my bill to rescind Governor Perry's Executive Order and thus this legislation requiring health insurance plans to cover the costs of the HPV vaccine will become unnecessary. Unfortunately, we must be prepared in case Governor Perry vetoes legislative efforts to stop his executive order so that we do not force Texas taxpayers to pick up the tab for another unfunded mandate," said Senator Hegar.
Senator Hegar said that he has heard from hundreds of his constituents who have urged him to oppose the executive order mandating the vaccine. He said that he was encouraged by Merck's announcement on Tuesday that the company would stop trying to persuade state legislatures to mandate the use of Gardasil. The company began lobbying efforts to mandate the vaccine targeting a sexually transmitted virus even before clinical trials on it had been completed.
Hegar noted that Dr. Richard M. Haupt, executive director for medical affairs in Merck's vaccine division, said that the company acted after hearing from public health officials and medical organizations who felt the timing for the school requirement was not right. Governor Perry has indicated that Merck's decision would not change his position regarding the HPV mandate.
"While I applaud Merck for ending their call to make their HPV vaccine mandatory, I am disappointed that Governor Perry has not withdrawn his executive order as well. Perhaps, at a minimum, he will support my legislation to require health insurance providers to cover the cost of the HPV vaccine so that parents will not have to bear the brunt of the cost of this unprecedented mandate," Hegar concluded.