Yesterday the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidelines, developed by the Institute of Medicine, that will require private insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover an annual well-woman visit and a variety of specific health screenings and counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, gestational diabetes, cervical cancer (an HPV DNA screening), HIV and STIs, as well as all FDA-approved contraceptives, breastfeeding support, lactation services, and supplies. Nevertheless, HHS issued an amendment to the guidelines, which permits religious institutions that offer insurance to employees to choose whether or not to cover contraceptive services.
These guidelines will increase vitally needed and often lifesaving preventive services for women. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stated, "These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need."
Birth control and other women's health services will not be free but will be fully covered for all women who have health insurance, without any additional charges or co-pays. This rule will apply to new insurance policies that are issued after the expiration of a one year waiting period, which starts after HHS adoption of the recommendations, and to all plans by 2018.
Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) stated, "Today marks an incredible step forward for women's health. By adopting each of the IOM's recommendations for preventive women health care services, the Obama Administration is ensuring that all womenóregardless of how they get their health care ó will have increased access to the services they need to be healthy. For too long, women have faced financial and access barriers that have kept them from the services that they need. These new rules change that.
Media Resources: HHS.gov 8/1/11; CNN 8/1/11; American Medical News 8/1/11; Statement of Lois Capps 8/1/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/19/11
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .