By MARTY LEVINE
Valerie Jamison of UPMC Health Plan assured the Oct. 18 meeting of the University Senate Benefits and Welfare Committee that help for abortion access is available to Pitt employees and their families covered by UPMC’s health insurance who may find themselves outside of Pennsylvania — as visiting professors, travelers or college students temporarily resident in another state.
“We absolutely have a national network” for access to services, said Jamison, a UPMC Health Plan managing account executive. And there is no need to prove medical necessity to UPMC when seeking abortion services, she added.
Linda Tashbook, committee chair, reminded members that “it’s legal to get an abortion in Pennsylvania and there is nothing in the Pennsylvania statute that prevents someone from another state coming into Pennsylvania to get an abortion.”
But she said committee members were concerned about abortion access for Pitt employees who work outside of Pennsylvania — which represents three percent of those who work at Pitt, scattered across 39 states, reported Melissa Kluchurosky, director of benefits. Kluchurosky added that “we may see that change as hybrid work evolves.”
Tashbook said other Pitt employees who may face abortion restrictions outside the Commonwealth include faculty members doing research at other institutions; children of employees, such as college students, still young enough to be covered by their parents’ insurance but living in a state where abortion is not legal; and an employee who has a need for an emergency abortion while out of state temporarily.
Jamison cautioned that, where abortions are illegal, “unfortunately we have no way to assist” in securing an abortion there, “if it is not legal in the state they are in” — apart from suggesting that the pregnant person go to a neighboring state where abortion is legal or return to Pittsburgh.
If the abortion is a medical emergency, she suggested that the person should call Assist America, a Pitt benefit that supports faculty and staff with travel issues, including “evacuation to a provider” that offers legal abortion — “at no charge,” she added.
Asked about a need for counseling while out of state and distressed over the situation, Tom Koloc, senior account manager of UPMC WorkPartners, suggested that UPMC could assist in assessing the person and get them connected with outside resources, “such as for trauma therapy.”
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.