October 08,2009

The America’s Healthy Future Act: Making Health Care Work for American Women and their Families

Today’s health care system does not work for women and their families. Unfair insurance industry practices and roadblocks to accessing preventive health care have left millions of American women and their families physically and financially vulnerable to a broken system. Here are ten ways the America’s Healthy Future Act makes health care work for women and their families:

1. Access to Affordable Coverage - For the 21 million women without coverage today, the America’s Healthy Future Act provides access to affordable, quality coverage. And because more than one-third of today’s uninsured women are the primary providers for their families, ensuring their access will strengthen the health of the entire family.

2. Ending Gender Discrimination by Insurance Companies - Today, insurance companies can charge women in their reproductive years up to one and one-half times more than men their same age, and in nine states companies are allowed to deny coverage to women who are survivors of domestic violence under the pre-existing condition clause. Under the America’s Healthy Future Act, no insurance company is permitted to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or charge higher rates based on gender. By changing the way insurance companies do business, women will finally have access to affordable, meaningful coverage that provides the peace of mind that comes with good health and financial stability.

3. Focus on Prevention and Wellness - Nearly 6 out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries are women. The America’s Healthy Future Act will eliminate their out-of-pocket costs for an annual wellness visit and preventive care. It will also make prescription drug coverage more affordable for women struggling to afford their medications.

4. Research on Women’s Health - Advancing the science of women’s health hinges on allocating sufficient resources to medical research on the best treatments and medical interventions for women. The America’s Healthy Future Act invests in gender- and age-specific research that will advance women’s health for years to come.

5. Protections for Widows - The America’s Healthy Future Act will protect Americans from losing their benefits under the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan after the death of a spouse.

6. Smoking Cessation for Pregnant Women - The America’s Healthy Future Act guarantees pregnant women have free access to smoking cessation services under Medicaid. This provides low-income women a way to improve their health, while giving America’s next generation the chance for a healthier start.

7. Home Visitation Services - The America’s Healthy Future Act will provide pregnant women, mothers, and their children with home visitation services – a public health strategy designed to improve both the mother and child’s well-being.

8. Medicaid Coverage for Low-Income Women - The America’s Healthy Future Act will help the 29 percent of uninsured women currently living below the federal poverty line by expanding Medicaid coverage for more low-income women.

9. Focus on Primary Care and Medical Homes - The America’s Healthy Future Act invests in primary care by permitting the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to fund Primary Care Medical Homes, some of which can focus on the unique health care needs of women.

10. Free-Standing Birth Centers - Under the America’s Healthy Future Act, free-standing birth centers, a popular alternative to hospital delivery rooms, will be covered under Medicaid allowing more flexibility in choosing the birthing option that works best for women and their families.