Good news in health care reform

Below is straight from the Family Violence Prevention Fund. It’s got some interesting tidbits and fun facts.  Be sure to take a look!

This morning, President Obama signed a health reform reconciliation bill, putting the final touches on a new law that offers significant benefits to victims of domestic violence. The new health reform law means that it will soon be illegal for health insurers to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence because they consider their abuse to be a preexisting condition.

Before the legislation was signed, there were no laws prohibiting insurance companies in eight states and the District of Columbia from discriminating against victims by declaring domestic violence, or a medical condition caused by domestic violence, to be a preexisting condition. Domestic violence victims in those states risked being denied health care when they needed it most.

“When this part of the new law takes effect in a few years, victims of domestic violence will be able to talk to their health care providers about the cause of their injuries without fear of losing their health insurance,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “We’ve fought for many years at the state and federal levels for laws that outlaw discrimination on the basis of domestic and sexual violence. We are delighted that lawmakers have now addressed insurance discrimination against victims of domestic violence. We are especially grateful to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for championing this provision.”

The bill also includes significant funding for expansion of home visitation programs that provide health care and social supports to pregnant women and new mothers. These programs have demonstrated success in reducing child abuse, and the new legislation expands their capacity to also address domestic violence. The bill also establishes a new grant program to provide intervention and supportive services¬, including housing, vocation counseling and group counseling, for pregnant women and teens who are victims.

The law names domestic violence as part of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, an initiative that will set specific goals and objectives over the next five years through federally-supported prevention, health promotion, and public health programs.

In addition, the new health reform law improves access to health care generally, which should result in abused women, children and teens getting better access to services to treat their abuse, and the conditions that result from it, before they worsen.

“For victims of domestic violence, access to health care is critical,” said White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal. “All across the country, this bill will help domestic violence victims get the health care they need. They will not face gender discrimination or lifetime caps on benefits. They will not face the struggle of paying too much for health care while trying to rebuild their lives after suffering domestic violence.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year. In the United States in 1995, the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking totaled $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores. When updated to 2003 dollars, the cost is more than $8.3 billion, and that number is significantly higher in 2010 dollars.

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