The Institute of Medicine is looking to broaden the scope of women's preventive-care services called for in last year's healthcare-reform law and is urging HHS to consider its recommendations before the agency develops comprehensive preventive-care guidelines.
In a statement about the recommendations, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives Americans access to preventive care through private insurance plans without being charged a deductible or co-payment.
At HHS' request, the IOM was charged with pinpointing gaps in services outlined in the Affordable Care Act. According to the report, women stand to gain from expanded preventive services because of their longer life expectancies, reproductive and gender-specific conditions, and historically greater burden of chronic disease and disability.
“This has a lot of terrific information for women and their providers about the types of preventive services women should be getting,” said Alina Salganicoff, vice president and director of women's health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation and a member of the committee that issued the recommendations (See chart). “It hasn't been done through a gender lens before.”
Salganicoff said that although the recommendation for access to free family planning services has garnered much attention, other services included in the recommendations—namely screening for gestational diabetes and services to support breast feeding—could keep millions of American women healthy.
“We are reviewing the report closely and will release the department's recommendations of what additional preventive services for women should be covered without cost-sharing very soon,” Sebelius said in her statement.