The Guttmacher Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive health in the United States and worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education. We are pleased to have the opportunity to submit this testimony on women’s preventive health services and the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known commonly as the Women’s Health Amendment.
The Women’s Health Amendment will allow the Department of Health and Human Services, with this panel’s assistance, to address critical gaps in the package of preventive services currently required to be covered without cost-sharing by all new private health plans. We will focus on one such gap that falls within the Guttmacher Institute’s primary areas of expertise: family planning. Specifically, we urge this panel to recommend that the Department comprehensively incorporate under the rubric of women’s preventive care and screenings the full range of reversible and permanent contraceptive drugs, devices and procedures; related clinical services necessary to appropriately supply those methods, including injections, insertion and removal of an IUD or implant, and fitting for a diaphragm or cervical cap; and the contraceptive counseling needed to promote optimal method choice and effective use.
Contraceptive services and supplies fit any reasonable definition of preventive care, and their effectiveness is supported by a strong body of evidence. Contraception helps women avoid unintended pregnancy and improve birthspacing, with substantial, positive consequences for infants, women, families and society. Although cost can be a daunting barrier to effective contraceptive use for an individual woman, insurance coverage of contraceptive services and supplies without costsharing is a low-cost—or even cost-saving—means of helping women overcome this obstacle. For all these reasons, contraceptive services have long been recognized by government bodies and a wide range of other experts, including leading health care professional organizations, as a vital and effective component of preventive and public health care.
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