SC advocates celebrate new federal guidelines for reproductive health

Private insurers must provide coverage of birth control and other preventative services

Tell Them, an e-advocacy network established by the New Morning Foundation, is celebrating historic new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that require preventive health services, including birth control, be covered by all insurance programs.
The guidelines grew out of the Affordable Health Act — the health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year — and ensure that women have access to a variety of health services without being charged a co-payment or deductible.
“Our 10,000 members have been advocating for this kind of health coverage for years so it is thrilling to see this finally happen,” said Emma Davidson, Tell Them Program Manager. “We sent a strong message to Washington that prevention is key in reducing many of the health issues we face in South Carolina and across the nation.”
Coverage will include FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually-transmitted infection screenings and counseling.
In developing these guidelines, HHS followed all the recommendations recently made by the Institute of Medicine, the independent health arm of the National Academy of Science. Their report relied on scientific evidence analyzed by physicians, nurses, scientists, and other experts.
“Study after study shows that prevention works in reducing a number of health issues facing our state including unintended pregnancy. Covering birth control without co-pays is one of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep women and children healthy,” said Dr. Lilly S. Filler, Women Physicians Associates OB/GYN P.A. and member of Tell Them.
Advocates note that these guidelines will have a significant impact on teens and young adults in South Carolina. “Minimizing barriers to contraceptive use among sexually active teens is incredibly important,” said Shannon Flynn, Director of Research and Evaluation for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Estimates show that over 81,000 females in South Carolina under the age of 20 need publicly supported contraceptive services. Having easier, more affordable access to contraception is a big step forward in protecting the health of teens in our state.”
New health plans must include these services without cost sharing beginning on or after August 1, 2012.

New Morning Foundation is a non-partisan grant-making and policy organization dedicated to improving young people’s access to reproductive health education, counseling, and clinical services. Tell Them is the organization’s grassroots electronic advocacy network. For more information visit www.newmorningfoundation.org or tellthemsc.org.

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