National Partnership for Women & Families

"A New Era for Women's Health"

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — August 1, 2011 —
"Secretary Sebelius’ announcement, that the government will follow all of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) recommendations regarding women’s health, is very good news for women and for the nation. We are entering a new, welcome and long overdue era for women’s health.

We are especially pleased that women will soon be able to access all approved contraceptive methods without co-pays or added cost under the Affordable Care Act. After careful analysis of the scientific evidence, a committee appointed by the Institute of Medicine recommended that contraception be covered as preventive care under health reform. Today, the Administration agreed and that means that beginning August 1, 2012, many more women will have access to the contraception they need.

We are, however, disappointed that the Administration is considering a refusal clause that would allow some employers to refuse to provide their employees with coverage for contraception. That clause is unnecessary and potentially harmful, and was not recommended by the IOM committee. Every employer should be required to provide coverage for this basic preventive care, which is essential to women’s health. Allowing some employers to refuse to do so would create barriers that, for some women, may prove insurmountable. We intend to advise the Administration of our strong objection to the inclusion of such a clause.

For women, contraception and birth control services are safe, effective and promote good health. More than half of women of reproductive age — some 36 million women — needed contraceptive services and supplies in 2008, and 17.4 million of them needed publicly funded contraception. For these women, eliminating expensive co-pays is the key to ensuring they have access to the care they need.

Other recommendations adopted today will improve women’s health. We are delighted that the Administration adopted the IOM committee’s recommendations for cancer, sexually transmitted infection and HIV screening and counseling; well-woman visits; screening and counseling for domestic violence; services for pregnant women including screening for gestational diabetes and lactation counseling; equipment to help women who choose to breastfeed do so; and other preventive health services."

Contact

Cindy Romero (202) 986-2600 cromero@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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