Archive for the ‘Contraception’ Category

Since day one, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has been arguing that contraception is important for the health and well-being of Latinas and our communities.

Today, President Obama announced an accommodation to the rule requiring most employers, excluding houses of worship, to provide health insurance that covers contraception. NLIRH applauds the new rule as it will provide women with “seamless access to birth control without expensive co-pays while providing accommodation to religiously affiliated employers.”

However, we know this issue won’t go away. As you may recall, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently introduced a bill that would undermine the provisions in the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and reproductive health services by dramatically broadening refusal protections.

Thus, as the coversation continues, NLIRH will continue to deliver the facts.

Check out our fact sheets in English and in Spanish.

Here is a sneak preview of the facts:
– A rollback on insurance coverage for contraception will hurt Latino families and will not end the political debate.
– The overwhelming majority of Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, use contraception.
– Most Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, support the coverage of contraception.
– Contraceptive coverage without co-pays is good for the health of women, good for the well-being of their families and good for our communities.
– Latino community leaders support birth control coverage.

You can also join us on Facebook, by sharing a Valentine to Secretary Sebelius, and on Twitter, where you can tell us what you will do #with600dollars that you will be saving each year thanks to no co-pays for birth control! You can also follow our hashtags #iheartbc and #bcftw.

Please join us by thanking the President and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius by tweeting @BarackObama and @Sebelius or posting your thanks on their Facebook pages! This rule could save you and your family $600.00/year, so it’s a big deal!

The fact sheets are Just the Facts: Latinas and Birth Control Coverage in English and Sólo los hechos: Las latinas y la cobertura de los anticonceptivos en español.

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Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a recent decision from the Department of Health and Human Services, birth control will soon be covered without co-pays for all women.

This decision will save women an average of $600 a year—money a woman will be able to use for groceries, school tuition, childcare, or anything else she and her family need.

All of us here at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health recognize HHS’s decision as one of the most important advancements for women’s health in decade.

How can you show your love for birth control and HHS’s no-copay decision?

Participate in our  “I Heart BC!” Campaign.

How to participate:

  • SAY THANKS! Send an email to President Obama his administration  for this historic support for women’s health!
  • SPREAD THE LOVE! Share one (or more!) of our “I Heart BC!” photos on your Facebook Page. Tell your friends on Facebook about the campaign and encourage them to share a photo as well.
  • TWEET IT OUT! On Twitter, use hashtags #with600dollars and #iheartbc to say what you will do with an extra $600.00 a year thanks to the new rule.
     Example: Thanks @Sebelius! #with600dollars, I will be able to pay for another credit
    at my community college. #iheartbc

Spread the word that birth control IS an essential part of women’s preventive health care! Tell us and your friends how this historic decision will positively impact your life!

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A decision by the Obama Administration may come down very soon that could expand the religious exemption to our recently hard-won victory of contraception without co-pays for new insurance plans.  That would mean that Latinas who work for religiously-affiliated schools, universities and hospitals could be denied coverage for birth control.

There are many reasons the Administration should not expand the religious exemption for birth control coverage, which currently is narrow and applies to health insurance plans for places of worship (which women’s health groups also oppose.)  One major reason is the simple fact that 98% of sexually-experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including Catholic women.  The myth that all Latinas are Catholic and therefore all oppose birth control is false.  Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, resoundingly support the women’s preventive coverage benefit.  In fact, 89% of Latina voters aged 18-34 support the requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control at no cost.

We know that family planning is central to the wellness of women and their families.  Eliminating expensive co-pays could also expand access to contraception for Latinas, who cite the high cost of birth control as a barrier to consistent use. Far more important than the decision are the real impacts this could have on women who already struggle to make ends meet.  For example, in these tough economic times, more women are seeking to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies.  Still, unintended pregnancies are rising among poor women who do not have the resources to purchase contraception.  In 2006, a poor woman in the U.S. was four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy as an affluent woman, and this disparity is likely to have increased with the recent “Great Recession.”

Taking away this benefit from millions of Latinas and their families has no basis in the law, is bad health policy, and is contrary to overwhelming public opinion.

Instead of caving to aggressive lobbying, the Administration should seize this opportunity to address the issue at hand; women’s reproductive rights.  With groundswell of support from women’s health organizations and overwhelmingly from the public, the Administration should hop aboard the reproductive health bandwagon to support a standard of care that will respect the dignity of all women.

Latinas and all women deserve access to birth control without co-pays because it prevents unintended pregnancies and keep our families healthy.  We know that contraception is a critical component of both public health initiatives and women’s healthcare, and for millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention.

Take action and urge the Obama Administration not to expand the religious exemption.

This post is part of the HERvotes blog carnival. 

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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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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.

An excerpt:

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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