Kudos to HHS for new preventive care guidelines geared toward women

The Task Force applauds the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement today regarding the requirement for expanded coverage of women’s preventive services in private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The guidelines, issued under the authority of Health Care Reform law, will require new health plans to include certain preventive services with no deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance by August 2012. Among the covered services are counseling for sexually transmitted infections, contraception, domestic violence counseling and screening, HIV counseling and screening and well-woman visits. The recommendations were developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, which relied on physicians, nurses, scientists and other experts to make these determinations based on scientific evidence.

These guidelines are a vital extension of key preventive services, which are too often underutilized due to cost. These guidelines are a step forward in recognizing that women pay a disproportionate share of their income in out-of-pocket and health costs and are a move toward the elimination of health disparities for low-income and women of color, who are less likely to have comprehensive access to care.

Today’s announcement also spotlights the critical impact of regulatory change and the use and collection of scientific data on the lives of millions of Americans. The Task Force, through the New Beginning Initiative, continues to advocate for LGBT people and other marginalized communities throughout the federal government.