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Columbia University Study Highlights New Framework for Women’s Health

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) applauds U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today for introducing the Health Care for Women Act, a congressional resolution to highlight the importance of women’s health and ensure that health care reform addresses the needs of women and families.

“The economic crisis and soaring health care costs are taking a toll on women’s health. Women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs and services,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “As a trusted health care provider for more than three million patients each year, we see firsthand the growing need for access to quality, affordable health care for women throughout their lives. Planned Parenthood applauds Sen. Stabenow and Rep. Schakowsky for their longtime commitment to women’s health, and for their leadership in working to ensure that women’s health is an integral component of any health care reform plan.”

The Health Care for Women Act sets the framework for ensuring equity in health care by recognizing the multiple roles women have as health care decision makers, caregivers and providers, and calls on Congress to pass legislation that “guarantees a level of benefits and care, including comprehensive reproductive health care, pregnancy-related care, and infant care, that is necessary to achieve and maintain good health throughout a woman’s lifetime and lessen the burdens caused by poor health.”

In stressing the need to address women’s health in health care reform efforts, the resolution highlights alarming statistics:

  • More than 17 million non-elderly women were uninsured in 2006, an increase of 1.2 million women since 2004. Half of the growth occurred among low-income women.
  • Thirteen percent of all pregnant women and 20.4 percent of all women of childbearing age (12.6 million) were uninsured in 2006.
  • More women of childbearing age are underinsured (20.4 percent) than all Americans under age 65 (17.8 percent). Women pay 68 percent more than men for out-of-pocket medical costs.

In conjunction with the resolution, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health released a report called Women’s Health and Health Care Reform. The report is endorsed by 38 deans of schools of public health and includes policy recommendations pointing to a new framework for women’s health and health care reform.

Recommendations include

  • linking prenatal, family planning and medical care as part of a seamless continuum of care for women 
  • linking reproductive health care with screenings and follow-up for health needs in later life, so that women’s care is integrated across their life spans.

Both the Health Care for Women Act and the Columbia University Study echo and reinforce Planned Parenthood’s advocacy for a women’s health agenda that focuses on prevention and wellness care, ensures access to care for all women, and guarantees the spectrum of health care for all women. Greater investments in reproductive health care will improve women’s health, reduce the incidence of disease, and promote healthy childbearing. Moreover, ensuring access to reproductive health services is essential to women’s full and equal participation in society.

As the nation’s most trusted reproductive health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood is on the front lines of America’s health care delivery system, providing basic preventive health care to millions of individuals every year through nearly 880 affiliate health centers across the country. Planned Parenthood, like community health centers, is a critical part of the health care safety net.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Tait Sye or Brannon Jordan, 202-973-4882


May 14, 2014