Senators #standwithwomen, push bill for women’s health

Three senators introduced the 21st Century Women’s Health Act, intended to build on progress already made on women’s health care issues. The bill’s sponsors are Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), who spoke on their goals and motivations regarding the bill, joined by various women’s health advocates. This bill focuses on women’s health clinics and primary care, as well as preventive services. Additionally, the bill hopes to educate and provide assistance to rape survivors and help prevent sexual violence.

A Senator’s Motivation

According to Senator Mikulski, “Fighting for women’s health has been one of my life-long priorities. When I first came to the Senate, women’s health wasn’t a national priority. We’ve changed that paradigm but there’s more to be done. I’ll continue to fight for women to get the preventive care and treatment they need to live healthy lives. We must raise awareness, raise consciousness, and raise hell so that women are not left behind when it comes to their health.”

Provisions

This act would build on progress made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) by:

  • Expanding preventive health care services to Medicaid beneficiaries. This includes all FDA-approved contraception and services and equipment providing breast feeding assistance.
  • Establishing a training program for nurse practitioners specializing in women’s care. This program should help supply some of the growing demand for primary care.
  • Granting states more power over Maternal Mortality Review committees, which review pregnancy-associated deaths to gain more insight and hopefully prevent these types of deaths in the future.
  • Establishing an ombudsperson role for advocating for women’s rights, particularly related to contraceptive care.
  • Increasing compassionate support for rape survivors, including increasing knowledge and availability of emergency contraception.
  • Launching public awareness for preventive services that are available at no cost pursuant to section 1001 of the ACA, which added section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act.

Other efforts

The bill is also supported by leaders of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. This legislation announcement follows on the heels of a push for HHS to consider pregnancy as a “qualifying life event” that allows newly pregnant women to obtain health care coverage outside of the open enrollment dates.