Effective today, the WGA Health Fund will reimburse reasonable travel expenses for participants and their dependents who must travel to another state to receive abortion services.
“As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and abortion is now illegal in many states,” the WGA West board said in a statement to members Monday, noting that the Writers Guild-Industry Health Fund “al covers termination of pregnancy for writers participants and their eligible dependent spouses in all circumstances.” The Fund also already covered termination of pregnancy for eligible dependent children “when the termination of pregnancy constitutes an emergency service”.
The WGA East’s Council sent a similar letter to its members this afternoon.
As of Aug. 1, the West’s board of directors said, “The Fund will also reimburse reasonable travel expenses incurred by participants and eligible spouses who live in covered employment or work temporarily in a state where abortion is illegal, and who must travel to obtain those services… The Fund will also reimburse reasonable travel expenses incurred when participants, dependent spouses and eligible dependent children require emergency abortion services.”
The letter to members also explained the rules applicable to the new travel allowance, including:
1. For reimbursement of travel costs for non-urgent termination of pregnancy services you need a pre-authorisation. If pre-authorization is not obtained when required, no travel allowance will be paid. Pre-authorization is not necessary if the termination of pregnancy is an emergency (eg termination of an ectopic pregnancy).
2. You may not receive termination of pregnancy services without travel because you live or work temporarily in a covered job in a state where termination of pregnancy is illegal.
3. You may travel to a provider in the closest state or metropolitan area to where the services are legal. If you are in a temporary work location away from home, you can also choose to travel home if termination of pregnancy is legal there.
4. Travel under this provision is limited to travel within the United States.
“In all cases, travel expenses must be primarily intended for and essential to access to termination of pregnancy services performed by a licensed medical provider acting within the scope of his or her license. Travel expenses that are not primary and essential to access to termination of pregnancy services are not Eligible Expenses and will not be reimbursed. “
Covered transport includes:
• Bus, taxi, train or plane fares (only bus fares are eligible).
• Transportation costs of a parent or legal guardian who must accompany a participant under the age of 18 or a covered dependent child (limited to emergency services). Otherwise, travel expenses for a friend, relative or other supportive person are not eligible.
• Stay is not reimbursed if you travel home for termination of pregnancy treatment.
• The amount of lodging expenses must be reasonable as determined by the health plan, but in no event more than $300 per night.
“Keep in mind that under IRS rules, if your lodging is more than $50 per person per night, you will be taxed on the amount that exceeds the IRS limit.”
Supplies and documentation:
Costs that are not eligible include:
Charges for a caregiver or travel companion other than a parent or legal guardian accompanying a Participant or covered dependent child (limited to emergency services) under the age of 18.
Both letters are signed “In Solidarity” by the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council.
Signing to the WGAW board were:
Meredith Stiehm, PresidentMichele Mulroney, Vice-PresidentBetsy Thomas, Secretary-TreasurerLiz AlperPatti CarrRobb ChavisAdam ConoverMarjorie DavidTravis DonnellyAshley GableDante W. HarperEric HaywoodDeric A. HughesE. Nicholas Mariani, Zoe Marshall, Dailyn Rodriguez, David Slack, Patric M. Verrone, Nicole Yorkin