Legislation filed on Capitol Hill would expand family-planning funding, require health insurers to include contraceptive coverage, and more
Slaughter's legislation contains a long list of findings including that more than 17 million women need financial assistance to afford reproductive health-care and contraceptive services, that the U.S. has the highest rate of infection with sexually transmitted diseases of any industrialized country (about 19 million new cases of STD infection in 2005, with direct medical costs as high as more than $14 million per year), and, notably, that for every dollar the feds spend to increase funding for family-planning programs, there is a $3.80 savings.
As such, the PFA would forbid group health plans and other health-insurance programs from excluding or restricting "benefits for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices" that are Food and Drug Administration-approved. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "develop and disseminate" medically accurate information about emergency contraception (a high dose of regular birth-control pills, designed to prevent pregnancy when taken after unprotected sex) including that emergency contraception "does not cause abortion." The bill would also withhold any federal funding for hospitals that fail to make emergency contraception available to rape victims, regardless of their ability to pay.
Finally, the legislation directs federal health officials to design a program of competitive grant awards designed to expand teen-pregnancy-prevention programs. It would bar groups pushing abstinence-only education from receiving funding, however, by requiring, in part, that grantees use the funding to implement prevention programs that are proven to work to prevent teen pregnancy and to delay adolescent sexual activity, "on the basis of rigorous scientific research."
The full text of the bill, House Resolution 819, is online at thomas.loc.gov.
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