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NLIRH Applauds Panel's Counsel to Cover Birth Control Under Health Reform

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Urges HHS to Accept the Panel’s Recommendations

Yesterday a panel of medical experts from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that recommended insurance companies cover contraception methods and counseling in the same manner that men’s and some women’s preventive care is already covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As the only national organization representing the reproductive health and justice of Latinas, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) applauds their conclusions and urges the Department of Health and Human Services to accept the panel’s recommendations.

Access to reproductive health services is a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed to all women in our community and is necessary for our individual and collective well-being. We understand preventive care is not just the provision of services in a doctor’s office. It is the proactive and intentional act of ensuring that our families can live full and complete lives. Contraception is a critical component of both public health initiatives and women’s health care, and for millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention.

Presently, half of women already delay or avoid preventive care due to its associated costs:

  • According to the Guttmacher Institute, on average, women spend roughly five years trying to become pregnant and 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy.
  • Also, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 50% of women age 18-34, including Latinas, say there has been a time when cost of prescription birth control interfered with their ability to use it consistently.
  • Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 17 million women needed publicly-funded contraceptives in 2006 because they could not afford it on their own, and that number continues to grow.

A key part of the ACA requires new health insurance plans to fully cover women’s preventive healthcare services with no co-pays for their members. The law explicitly includes women’s routine screenings, such as mammograms and pap tests, and some screenings for pregnant women, but prescription birth control was not included. That is why last year we launched the first Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice focused specifically on this issue. And this February, we continued our efforts with the Birth Control: Nuestra Salud, Nuestra Prevención campaign to lift the voices of Latinas and all women who are advocating for access to prescription birth control without co-pays under the health law.

IOM's recommendations put Latinas one step closer to being able to more easily build healthier families and communities. We thank the thousands of people who participated in our campaigns and who continue to advocate for the salud, dignidad and justicia of Latinas.