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Walgreens to offer travel benefits for some workers seeking abortions

Lisa Schencker, Sarah Freishtat, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

Walgreens will reimburse many of its workers for travel expenses if they have to venture more than 50 miles for an abortion, the company said Wednesday — a move that follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week ending federal protection for abortion.

Deerfield-based Walgreens is “broadening our existing travel reimbursement benefits” for any employee who is covered by the company’s self-funded health insurance to allow travel reimbursement for covered medical, surgical, mental or substance abuse services not available within 50 miles of the worker’s home, spokesman Jim Cohn said in a statement.

The company already reimbursed workers for travel expenses related to some out-of-state health care services, and abortion will now be among those.

“Ensuring comprehensive access to both physical and mental health care, listening to our workforce to understand their needs, and prioritizing the health and well-being of our team members are core principles that drive how we operate and make decisions as an organization,” Cohn said.

Walgreens has nearly 9,000 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and employs more than 225,000 people.

 

The retail pharmacy giant joins a growing list of companies that are now promising to pay for abortion-related travel expenses for employees. Companies have been announcing the new policies over the past week, since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, meaning states may now outlaw abortion. Illinois leaders have pledged that the state will remain a safe haven for those seeking the procedure.

Executives at Bolingbrook-based Ulta Beauty said the company would provide travel expense assistance for “eligible reproductive health services where access to care is restricted,” including legal abortions. The coverage took effect Friday, the same day as the Supreme Court ruling, according to a company statement.

JPMorgan Chase will also cover travel to receive legal abortions, according to a company benefits memo sent June 1.

The Walt Disney Co., Facebook parent Meta, American Express, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have also said they will cover travel costs for workers. Apple, Starbucks, Lyft and Yelp reiterated after Friday’s ruling previous statements taking similar action. Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia posted on LinkedIn Friday that it would provide “training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice” and time off to vote.

©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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