After several months of public debate and internal review, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced its final regulations on women's preventive health coverage, requiring most employers to provide full contraceptive coverage (without co-pays).
In July, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, released the historic report Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps. The report recommended that many women's preventive health services—including contraceptives—should be fully covered by health insurance providers. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would require employers to provide full contraceptive coverage, but it also proposed a refusal clause so religiously affiliated institutions could opt out.
After much lobbying by both sides, the administration has decided to require most employers to provide contraceptive coverage by August 2012. Organizations who currently do not provide contraceptive coverage due to religious affiliations will be given an extra year to make these adjustments to their insurance plans.
The opponents of this decision have not given up—filing court cases and lobbying Congress to overturn the ruling.
Hadassah remains a strong advocate for a woman's freedom of choice and opposes any attempts to restrict the right to reproductive choice and/or use of family planning services. Restrictions to reproductive healthcare deprive women of their right to make health decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with their own religious, moral and ethical values.
Thank the White House for supporting women's access to preventive health coverage and urge it to ensure that all women have access to reproductive health services.