It should be unthinkable for employers and health institutions to be allowed to make decisions about women’s health needs for them. And it should be unquestionable that access to family planning services, including contraception and sterilization, are vital to comprehensive health care for women.
Last Wednesday, November 2, 2011, Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) called a hearing entitled “Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care” in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Health, part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Despite the fact that studies show that 98-99% of sexually active women have used a modern form of contraception, some members of the Subcommittee value the preferences of employers over the right of women to be healthy and to choose what they need to be healthy.
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Is asking the government to pay for manicures and pedicures the same as requiring insurance companies to fully cover women’s health? No.
Women have been fighting tooth and nail to get equal coverage in health care for generations and now, when we have achieved some success in the recognition of what complete health care means for women, pundits are making it sound like women have received an undeserved windfall.
This week, Fox News’ America’s Newsroom hosted an “expert” who claimed that the new rules to fully cover women’s preventive care, including contraceptives, were the equivalent of giving women free pedicures and manicures.
Seriously? These services are central to women’s preventive care and should be covered in the same way that other services, including those for men and children, are already covered. A recent Guttmacher report found that virtually every woman in America will use at least one contraceptive method in her life; this includes religious women. Pregnancy is a primary health issue for women in our country who spend on average 30 years of their lives trying not to get pregnant. Spacing and timing of pregnancies plays an important role in women and children’s health and well being. To trivialize pregnancy and its health effects on women is sexist and wrong, and again creates negative rhetoric against women, their reproductive health and the families they create.
Women’s health care, including contraception, breast pumps and counseling for abuse, is not the equivalent of pedicures and manicures. They are the building blocks of preventive health for women. An expert panel of doctors and scientists found these services are central to women’s preventive health. It was 100% appropriate for HHS to include them in the preventive care regulations. The decision was welcome news for millions of Latinas and their families as they seek to plan and space their pregnancies, keep their pregnancies healthy, keep their infants healthy, or prevent deadly cancers and illness.
Being a woman has always been seen as a pre-existing condition in our for-profit health care industry and it is not only sensible, but also just for government to change this tide. The new health care reform law is leveling the playing field so that women can get their complete health care covered in a way that considers the fully scope of what women need. As representatives of Latinas in this battle, we fought through the extra process, effectively dispelled a constant campaign of negative rhetoric about Latina women’s reproductive health, and won a major step forward in equality in health care for women. Fox’s “experts” cannot take that away.
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Por Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Ver en ingles
Todos queremos que nuestras familias se mantengan sanas. Y un factor principal para lograrlo es asegurarse que nuestras madres, hijas y hermanas tengan acceso a los servicios médicos preventivos que necesitan. Cuando el tema es sobre la salud, las mujeres son quienes a menudo se encargan de tomar las decisiones para el cuidado de la salud de sus familias y también son una fuente de información confiable para sus amigos. De la misma manera, las mujeres son consumidoras importantes de atención médica.
Las mujeres tienen necesidades únicas de atención médica durante su ciclo de vida. También, tienen tasas altas de enfermedades crónicas, como la diabetes, enfermedades cardíacas y ataques cerebrales. A pesar de que las mujeres son más propensas a necesitar servicios preventivos de salud, a menudo tienen menos posibilidades para pagarlos. Frecuentemente, las mujeres no reciben los servicios médicos de prevención necesarios debido a sus bajos ingresos y al costo que tiene que pagar de su propio bolsillo por servicios médicos. Sin embargo, al eliminar los gastos compartidos requeridos por los seguros se puede mejorar el acceso de las mujeres a servicios preventivos importantes. De hecho, un estudio demostró que cuando se eliminaron los gastos compartidos, la tasa de las mujeres que se hacían una mamografía subió hasta un 9 por ciento.
La Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio ayuda a que los servicios médicos de prevención sean accesibles y estén al alcance de todos. La Ley requiere que los nuevos planes de salud cubran los servicios preventivos recomendados y eliminen los gastos compartidos, tales como los deducibles, copagos o co-seguros, para muchos servicios de prevención. La ley también requiere que las compañías de seguros cubran otros beneficios de salud preventiva adicionales para las mujeres.
Por primera vez, el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos (HHS por su sigla en inglés) está tomando pasos importantes para mejorar los servicios médicos de prevención de las mujeres que se basa en recomendaciones existentes. Hoy, HHS anuncio un guía nuevo sobre los servicios preventivos de salud de la mujer. El guía ayudara que la mujer se mantenga saludable en todas las etapas de su vida.
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By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Read in Spanish
Everyone wants their family to be healthy. And a key component of this is ensuring that mothers, daughters, and sisters have access to the preventive services they need. When it comes to health, women are often the sole decision maker for their families and the trusted source in circles of friends – and they are also key consumers of health care.
Women have unique healthcare needs across their life span and have high rates of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Yet while women are more likely to need preventive health care services, they often have less ability to pay. Too often, the combination of women’s lower incomes and out-of-pocket health costs mean that women forgo necessary preventive services. But removing cost sharing requirements improves women’s access to important preventive services. In fact, one study found that the rate of women getting a mammogram went up as much as 9 percent when cost sharing was removed.
The Affordable Care Act helps make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring new health plans to cover recommended preventive services and by eliminating cost sharing, such as deductibles, copayments or co-insurance, for many preventive services. The law also requires insurance companies to cover additional preventive health benefits for women.
For the first time ever, HHS is adopting a new comprehensive set of guidelines for women’s preventive services that builds on and fills the gaps in existing preventive services recommendations for women’s health. Together, these guidelines will help ensure that women stay healthy at every stage of life.
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Posted in Contraception on July 22, 2011 |
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A few years ago an aunt of mine was experiencing irregular periods and excess bleeding during her menstrual cycles. The only way she was able to regulate her period and avoid losing so much blood was by taking prescription birth control. She was fortunate enough to be able to afford birth control, a luxury that many struggling women don’t have. Unfortunately, while cases like what my aunt experienced is one that is shared so often by women, many are not able to afford prescription birth control. Roughly 19% of Latinos live below the poverty line. For them, spending thirty dollars a month on birth control is a burden to high to bare. Economic barriers such as poverty have an alarming affect on women’s reproductive health and especially for Latinas. Access to contraception is an important part of comprehensive reproductive health care and for Latinas, birth control by definition is prevention.
Earlier this week the Institute of Medicine recognized that contraception is an important part of women’s preventive care. We are excited that health care coverage for contraceptives will be provided for women in the same manner that other men’s and women’s preventive care is already covered, and also that HPV and HIV screenings will be included.
We now wait to see if HHS will adopt the recommendations, so we can take this important step toward access to contraception for all!
This post was part of the We’ve Got You Covered blog carnival hosted by the National Women’s Law Center
By Megan Donahue, DC Policy Intern, is supported by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program
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An opinion piece about this week’s IOM decision written by Interim Executive Director Maria Elena Perez was published to RH Reality Check today.
Women are cheering this week’s recommendation by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to eliminate costly insurance co-pays for birth control. It’s a signal that there is a growing public recognition that preventive care is more than just the provision of services at the doctor’s office. For millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention. But, while the media has focused extensively on the birth control recommendations, the full set of recommendations detailed by federal health officials paints an even brighter picture for our community: Latinas made major gains not only in controlling our fertility, but equally importantly in keeping ourselves and our children healthy.
The IOM is made up of a powerful group of scientists and public health leaders that has enormous sway in the government’s approach to health care. It’s no surprise then that health professionals looking at the country’s essential needs recognized what many have not: removing societal barriers to health care, such as those faced by many Latinas, are critical public health priorities.
Virtually every one of the IOM recommendations will greatly benefit Latina women. Whether Latinas are seeking to plan and space their pregnancies, keep their pregnancies healthy, keep their infants healthy, or get basic preventive healthcare, these expanded benefits are welcome news.
Read the rest here.
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Good news yesterday for women’s health advocates in health care reform!
Yesterday a panel of medical experts from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that recommended insurance companies cover contraception methods and counseling in the same manner that men’s and some women’s preventive care is already covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As the only national organization representing the reproductive health and justice of Latinas, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) applauds their conclusions and urges the Department of Health and Human Services to accept the panel’s recommendations.
Access to reproductive health services is a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed to all women in our community and is necessary for our individual and collective well-being. We understand preventive care is not just the provision of services in a doctor’s office. It is the proactive and intentional act of ensuring that our families can live full and complete lives. Contraception is a critical component of both public health initiatives and women’s health care, and for millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention.
You can read the full statement from NLIRH here.
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Posted in Contraception on June 16, 2011 |
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By Megan Donahue, DC Policy Intern
When I was a little girl, I remember waking up to the rhythms of salsa and merengue. Whenever there was an opportunity, mami would run to the radio and play music. She would invite my tias over, and that would lead to dance lessons for me and my sisters! Dancing came naturally to my sisters, they were all gifted by birth. I still say that dancing was almost effortless for them. I, on the other hand, had trouble honing down my moves. Mami would see me get frustrated and would tell me to just keep practicing, that with practice I would become an expert. Like the saying goes, “La repetición es la madre de la retención” which means repetition breeds retention. We know that repetition works in a funny way, in that we tend to react to anything new with some apprehension and discomfort, but with repeated exposure we become familiar with things. Over time, what was once new and difficult will become familiar and less threatening.
Similarly, education about birth control in the Latino community is something that can become standard. 50% of women age 18-34, including Latinas, say that there has been a time when cost of prescription birth control interfered with their ability to use it consistently. This can lead to unintended pregnancies. Birth control in the Latino community may often be viewed as taboo, though studies show that Latinas do in fact support birth control. With more education, Latinas, and all women, will continue to view birth control as an essential part of women’s reproductive health.
Knowledge is power, but how good is our knowledge if we do not exercise it? Knowing is simply not enough! We need to exercise it and talk to our families about what we know relating to birth control. Currently, prescription birth control is not included as preventive care under the health law that passed last year. Poverty and socioeconomic status have an alarming effect on women’s reproductive health, especially for Latinas. For example, roughly 19% of Latinos live below the poverty line, which creates barriers to obtain birth control.
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Great News! We just learned from our colleagues at the Women of Color Policy Network that Lamar Advertising is pulling down the racist and offensive billboard by the anti-choice organization, Life Always, in Soho after an outpouring of calls and emails from reproductive health activists and communities of color.
Following a letter to Peter Costanza, Vice President and General Manager of LaMar Billboards, written by the Women of Color Policy Network, Mr. Costanza responded affirmatively that they would remove the billboard.
However, we must remain vigilant! Life Always is committed to spreading the campaign throughout country and there are continued threats to access to the full range of reproductive health services for low-income women and communities. This billboard is only one of the many attacks on reproductive freedom and services for low-income women across the country. Both the House and Presidential budgets propose to eliminate critical funding to programs that provide services to women and families.
Here’s proof that there is power in our voices! Join National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in telling Congress to stop attacking women! Click HERE to take Action!
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In a statement released today, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health strongly denounced the deeply offensive and racist billboard campaign by an anti-choice organization targeting African American women. This organization posted a three-story high billboard in New York City this week claiming that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” in conjunction with a national campaign during Black History Month.
“These offensive billboards are nothing more than political ploys designed to stigmatize African American women and communities of color and restrict access to reproductive health care”, said Silvia Henriquez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “The organizations promoting these ads are focused on sensationalizing abortion and cutting even more women off from the reproductive health care they seek.”
Studies show that African American women and Latinas are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured and often lack basic access to birth control and comprehensive sex education due to fundamental structural inequities in society.
“We should be doing all we can to support women making the best personal reproductive health care decisions for themselves and their families”, added Henriquez. “As the only national Latina reproductive health and justice organization, we stand with other women of color to speak out in opposition to these condescending ad campaigns.”
For more information about NLIRH, visit: http://www.latinainstitute.org
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