Congratulations! Today women got the great news that the requirement for contraceptive coverage without co-pays is final.
With your help, the National Women’s Health Network told the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that women need full and affordable coverage for all our health needs – including comprehensive contraceptive care -- regardless of where we work, and HHS listened.
The administration’s decision, announced today, maintains a narrow exemption for churches and other specifically religious institutions, allowing them to decide whether or not to cover contraception services. But it did not broaden the exemption as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had urged. It affirms the rights of the vast majority of women to make their own decisions about their health, while giving religiously affiliated organizations that currently don’t provide contraceptive coverage an extra year to comply with the requirement.
Your voices were heard! After reviewing more than 200,000 comments from the public, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that almost all employers will have to include coverage for women’s preventive health services, including contraceptive services, starting in August 2012.
This is a huge and important victory for women. The bishops and a few other religious leaders were lobbying the administration to create a broader exemption, allowing them to continue to deny contraceptive coverage to women who work for a wide range of organizations affiliated with religious institutions. But thanks to you, HHS heard from more than just conservative religious leaders. Women like you spoke out and told them just how important these services are to our health.
And don’t forget – because of the Affordable Care Act, the preventive health services to be covered with no extra fees also include comprehensive contraceptive care, screening and counseling for intimate partner violence, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding counseling and equipment, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and a well-woman visit once a year. The requirement that all FDA approved methods of contraception be covered includes both long-acting methods such as the IUD and emergency contraception (EC).
You can read the formal announcement, here. And you can thank Secretary Sebelius by clicking here!