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Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President, of the Feminist Majority Foundation, concerning Obama Administration Moving Forward in Providing Women Contraceptive Services

April 2, 2012

The Feminist Majority Foundation welcomed the release by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, of advance notice of proposed rule-making on preventive services policy that would ensure employees and students at religiously affiliated institutions receive the benefits of the Affordable Care Act preventive care package, including contraceptive coverage without co-pays or deductibles. The advance notice includes a 90-day comment period for input from the public. Once again the Obama administration shows its strong support for women's preventive health care coverage and its skill in moving forward.

The Obama administration is realizing the President's commitment that "No woman's health should depend on who she is, or where she works, or how much money she makes." What's more, the Obama administration is ensuring that students at religiously affiliated institutions have insurance coverage that includes the entire preventive care package, including contraceptives, without co-pays and deductibles.

The released advance rule guidelines simply implement and provide options which ensure that religiously affiliated institutions who object to this preventive care will not have to pay for it or administer it.

In addition, the Obama Administration announced today that under the Affordable Care Act, student health plans will have the same protections as required for individual insurance policies, including full coverage of preventive services without co-pays or deductibles and a prohibition on lifetime limits.

Ninety-nine percent of women, at some time during their lives, need access to contraceptives, but approximately half of them today cannot afford it. Now finally the vast majority of insured women will have access without co-pays or deductibles. This is a win-win solution. We are determined that political opponents of the Affordable Care Act will not take the preventive care package away from women. The Affordable Care Act is ensuring that women are not discriminated against in health care.

The Affordable Care Act preventive care package now includes the following without co-pays or deductibles: approved contraceptives both for birth control and for treatment of several illnesses, as well as annual well-woman visits and cancer screenings, counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, testing for HIV and STIs, breastfeeding support, and lactation services and supplies.

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