Experts: Government actions threaten women’s health care

A graphic incorporating a health insurance form and the American flag.

Women’s Health Research at Yale (WHRY) joined medical and public health experts from across the country in calling for increased public engagement to address federal government efforts that can threaten women’s health care.

In a commentary published in the peer-reviewed journal Women’s Health Issues, WHRY Director Carolyn M. Mazure and her co-authors detailed the ongoing risks to women’s health posed by attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare. These attempts include efforts to restrict coverage of preventive services, reproductive health, and chronic disease care. 

While the most recent efforts to eliminate the expansion of insurance coverage and services established by the ACA stalled in Congress, other attempts will likely follow, and subsequent executive orders also undermine the law,” Mazure said. “As citizens, we all need to stay engaged to maintain these benefits and programs. Never underestimate the power of grassroots movements to make change.”

For example, the number of women paying out of pocket for contraceptive care decreased from 22% to 3% under the ACA’s provision mandating that patients not share costs, a benefit affecting 55 million women, the authors noted. A rollback in contraception coverage could cost women $1.4 billion per year in copayments, shrinking affordable access for women and leading to a spike in unintended pregnancies.

The ACA and other federally funded efforts have made vital gains for women’s access to high-quality preventive services and care, and it is critical for us all to mobilize to preserve these before they are lost,” the authors said. “As clinicians, public health practitioners, and health policy experts, we can have a significant impact by speaking out to our state and national representatives and the public about the value of women’s health services and the potential effect of cutting or reducing access to these essential services for women, their families, communities, and the healthcare industry.”

In addition to Mazure, co-authors of the study include Claire Brindis of University of California-San Francisco, Dr. Karen Freund and Dr. Laura Baecher-Lind of Tufts Medical Center, Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Molly Carnes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Martha Gulati of The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, Dr. Hadine Joffe of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wendy Klein, Dr. Lydia Pace of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Judith Regensteiner of the University of Colorado-Denver, Dr. Rita Redberg of the University of California-San Francisco, Dr. Nanette Wenger of Emory University, and Lorie Younger of Cedars Sinai Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center.

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