A new Institute of Medicine report that will be used to guide the final decisions on what no-cost, preventive health care services for women must be covered by all health insurance plans, soundly supports key reproductive health services for women. Undertaken at the behest of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to guide its implementation of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the recommendations were met with strong support, including from the provision’s sponsor, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The longstanding opponents of women’s health and rights have weighed in with their disappointment – and we’ll all be watching to see if their vocal minority will politicize these medical recommendations and sway final decisions.
The panel of experts for the IOM report reviewed evidence and heard testimony to develop the eight recommendations for no-cost preventive care to improve women’s health in the United States, including:
- screening for gestational diabetes
- HPV testing as part of cervical cancer screening for women over 30
- counseling on sexually transmitted infections
- counseling and screening for HIV
- contraceptive methods and counseling to prevent unintended pregnancies
- lactation counseling and equipment to promote breast-feeding
- screening and counseling to detect and prevent interpersonal and domestic violence
- yearly well-woman preventive care visits to obtain recommended preventive services
The next step in this process is to see if DHHS will include these services in its regulations to implement the Affordable Care Act. If they do follow these reasoned and sensible recommendations, a big gap in ensuring women’s access to basic health care will be filled in the United States. The regulations are expected to be released on August 2.