Protect Women's Health Care

I Will Not Be Denied: Protect Women's Health CareThe Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is proud to join the National Women’s Law Center’s I Will NOT Be Denied™ campaign to educate the public about the benefits of the health care law and what is at risk if it is repealed. The American public has so much to gain from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both in improvements to overall health and budgeting.

As we have been noting in our blogs, the ACA is making an enormous impact in people’s lives. 

These and so many other fantastic provisions in the ACA are worth fighting for. Take a stand and get informed about the new health care bill. Join the campaign, learn the facts about healthcare reform, share the video and tell opponents of affordable care “I Will NOT Be Denied.”™ !

Join the #NotDenied conversation on Twitter, or visit the National Women's Law Center on Facebook.

The Affordable Care Act: Supporting Working Mothers

Coauthored by Rachel Gielau

Did You Know that the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide a designated breastfeeding station and allowbreak time for women to breastfeed or pump during the workday? 

That’s right! Employers with at least 50 employees must allow for reasonable break times during the workday for working mothers to nurse or pump, and must also provide a breastfeeding station other than the bathroom. According to the law, working mothers must have access to these breastfeeding accommodations for one year after their child is born. 

This is a wonderful achievement for women’s rights and women’s health, not to mention the health of our nation’s children who benefit immensely from being breastfed during infancy. Breastfeeding gives children a kickstart to preventing chronic illnesses like asthma, lower respiratory infections, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, and building healthy immune systems. And it’s great for mothers too. Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of women developing breast & ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression. By preventing short and long term health complications for mother and child, this healthy practice is also good for the economy, business, and the environment, and it saves families money too! Recent research shows that the United States could save an aggregate of 13 billion dollars per year if 90 percent of our nation’s mothers breastfed their newborns for the first 6 months due to reduced medical expenses. It is also been shown that women and their partners miss fewer work days due to sick children when their babies are breastfed during infancy, which fosters productivity in the workplace. Breastfeeding also avoids the environmental cost and waste associated with producing and using formula and plastic bottles.

In this effort to ensure that our nation’s women have the tools they need to successfully breastfeed their newborns, the Affordable Care Act is working to break down barriers for women in the doctor’s office. Starting in August of this year, women with non-grandfathered health insurance plans will be able to receive breastfeeding support and counseling, and access to breastfeeding supplies without having to pay money out-of-pocket. This is part of the excellent list of women’s preventive health services that were passed down by HHS last summer. 

Learn even more about the Affordable Care Act’s many achievements for women’s health onlineFor breastfeeding support and helpful resources, go here.

As we wrap up this holiday season, thank you, Affordable Care Act,for being an advocate for the health and wellbeing of our nation’s women and children.

The Affordable Care Act: A Champion for Women's Preventive Health

This is the second post in a weekly “Did You Know” blog series that will highlight important, but not well known features of the health reform law about prevention, wellness, and personal responsibility for our health. 

Did you know that insurance companies will soon be required to cover women’s preventive health services like birth control and annual gynecological visits free of co-pay?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act, announced this summer that starting in August, 2012 (for new or “non-grandfathered” plans), insurance companies will have to cover a set of women’s preventive health services free of cost-sharing (i.e., co-payments, deductibles, or the use of co-insurance). These services are in addition to the set of preventive benefits for all adults that health insurance companies are already required to cover without cost-sharing in the private market (at least those with “non-grandfathered” plans), all thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The women’s preventive health services included in the rule are:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes
  • HPV DNA testing for women 30 years and older
  • STI counseling
  • HIV screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraceptives and contraceptive counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling

There are a couple of important exemptions that come with this new rule. Insurance plans with “grandfathered” status will not be required to cover these benefits free of co-pay in 2012. The rule only applies to new plans, or those that have lost their “grandfathered” status. If you are unsure whether or not your plan is new or grandfathered, ask your insurer or your employer if you have coverage through work. You can find more information on grandfathered vs. non-grandfathered plans online.

The other exemption to this new rule, which is still being considered by HHS, involves religiously affiliated places of work and the mandate to provide coverage for birth control. Controversial in nature, the proposed religious exemption has recently become the center of debate. The exemption would allow religiously affiliated institutions that oppose birth control and offer employer coverage to refrain from providing contraceptive benefits. This means that millions of women working for religiously affiliated institutions, including places of work like hospitals and schools, may face barriers to accessing affordable FDA-approved family planning methods, which is a concern for women’s rights advocates across the country.  

Quick Fact: Speaking of women’s preventive health, did you know that health reform is already working to increase women’s access to ob-gyns?  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women no longer have to get a referral from their doctor before seeing a gynecologist no matter what kind of insurance they have! This consumer protection applies to all women and has been in effect since September 23, 2010.

This blog post was coauthored by Rachel Gielau.                                      

Interested in an in-person presentation on how health reform is rolling out in Illinois and what it means for individuals?  Are you a direct service provider or advocate for vulnerable populations and interested in how the Affordable Care Act will impact the population you serve?  Rachel Gielau, health policy expert at the Shriver Center, is giving free in-person presentations to Illinois audiences on how health reform is affecting individual and families in Illinois. Contact Rachel Gielau at 312-368-1154 to set up a presentation for your organization!