Congratulations women, families and would-be families across America! Thanks to the President and his administration, women will now have reproductive rights!
You see, last week the President resisted pressure from Catholic bishops and the old, white male-dominated Republican establishment and announced his administration’s decision to provide full, free contraceptive coverage under the Preventive Care package of the Affordable Care Act (which I prefer to call "ObamaCares"). The significance of this policy announcement is made even more important by last week’s uproar regarding the Komen Foundation's financial support of Planned Parenthood.
Thanks to ObamaCares, employer insurance plans must not discriminate against women in health care, and must cover FDA approved birth control with no co-pays or deductibles beginning in August 2012. This means millions of women who previously could not afford contraceptives will now have access to them.
Employer insurance plans must not discriminate against women in health care, and must cover FDA approved birth control with no co-pays or deductibles beginning in August 2012.
Non-profit religious institutions' employer plans that do not currently cover contraception will have an additional year to comply — but comply they must. Student insurance plans at religiously-affiliated universities must also cover contraception with no co-pays or deductibles beginning August 2012. Only employees who work directly for a house of worship or church hierarchy are exempted from this required coverage.
The President came to his decision after a considerable amount of input from the medical and scientific community. Soon after signing the ACA into law, the President commissioned the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) to come up with a list of preventive services that women needed to stay healthy and should be insured with no co-pay. Last August, the IOM released its findings.
The IOM defined preventive health services as measures — including medications, procedures, devices, tests, education and counseling — shown to improve well-being and/or decrease the likelihood or delay the onset of a targeted disease or condition. The IOM found the following:
- Co-pays prevented some women from using contraception.
- About half of all pregnancies studied were unplanned, and 42 percent ended in abortion. With increased use of birth control, rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion fall.
- Birth control pills were also used to treat menstrual problems, some migraine headaches, acne, pelvic pain, excessive hair growth and other conditions. They can also reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease and some benign breast diseases.
Based on these findings, the IOM recommended that women’s preventive services include:
- Access to contraceptives without co-pay.
- Improved screening for cervical cancer, counseling for sexually transmitted infections and counseling and screening for HIV.
- A fuller range of contraceptive education, counseling, methods and services so that women can better avoid unwanted pregnancies and space their pregnancies to promote optimal birth outcomes.
- Services for pregnant women, including screening for gestational diabetes and lactation counseling and equipment to help women who choose to breastfeed do so successfully.
- At least one well-woman preventive care visit annually for women to receive comprehensive services.
- Screening and counseling for all women and adolescent girls for interpersonal and domestic violence in a culturally sensitive and supportive manner.
So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s thank the President for standing up for women’s reproductive rights! Millions of women and thousands of families will now be able to make their own health decisions.