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Rules Issued for Women's Preventive Care

On August 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issued detailed guidelines (http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/) for group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to coverage of preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). A fact sheet is also available at the HealthCare.gov portal.

These guidelines supplement the IFR on general preventive care requirements issued in July 2010 and have the effect of expanding on the list of preventive health care services that must be covered on a first dollar basis. Specifically, all non-grandfathered health plans (both insured and self-insured plans) will need to include these services without cost sharing for plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012. The guidelines specifically address preventive health services that must be offered to women at no additional cost, such as:

  • Well-woman visits;
  • Screening for gestational diabetes;
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • Sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling.

In related news, on August 1, the U.S. Treasury Department, Department of Labor (DOL) and HHS released an amendment to the original preventive care IFR, providing an exemption for “religious employers” from the provisions of PPACA regarding coverage for contraceptive services for women and sets forth a definition for “religious employer” for that purpose.

As explained in background to the amendment, it “is intended to reasonably balance the extension of any coverage of contraceptive services under the HRSA Guidelines to as many women as possible, while respecting the unique relationship between certain religious employers and their employees in certain religious positions.”  

The Obama Administration is seeking comments on the amendment to the preventive care IFR amendment until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, expected within the next several days, meaning that comments will be due in early October. (Source:National Business Coalition on Health; American Benefits Council, August 2, 2011)

Posted by Cristie Travis at 1:53 PM

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