Healthcare Reform and Advocating for Essential Women’s Benefits

healthcare reform.pngFederal healthcare reform—or the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—continues to dominate Congress’ legislative agenda—and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Last week, Senate Republicans released the Better Care Reconciliation Act, their much-anticipated version of the House of Representative’s American Health Care Act.

Any effort to overhaul a health care system that will soon account for almost 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product will be complex—and granular. As the leading organization for childbirth educators, Lamaze International has honed its attention on preserving the Essential Health Benefits that the ACA requires insurance plans to cover. Many of you can attest to the impact that women’s preventive services—maternity and newborn care, lactation support, and clinical preventive coverage—have had on your patients, clients, and students. Your ability to reach more individuals who may not have had access to basic care, childbirth education—or even prenatal care—speaks to the importance of advocating for these essential benefits.

Many lawmakers, healthcare provider organizations, and advocacy groups have already spoken against repealing these essential benefits. In May 2017, Lamaze joined the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other stakeholders to support S. 1045, the Save Women’s Preventive Care Act. Senator Patty Murray (WA-D) introduced this bill to preserve the women’s preventive services that the ACA guarantees—and that align with the Health Resources & Services Administration's, ACOG’s, and the National Academy of Medicine’s clinical guidance for women and children’s health.

Lamaze International will continue to monitor healthcare reform efforts and will look for opportunities to advocate for improved childbirth outcomes—both for mothers and children. The short- and long-term health of women and children starts with comprehensive and accessible prenatal care that includes childbirth education and continues through the postpartum period. Ensuring preventive care services for women is only possible with access to adequate coverage—and care. Childbirth education can be an overlooked resource, but evidence shows that comprehensive education for expecting parents improves outcomes and has long-lasting positive effects on mothers and children. (Afshar, Wang, Mei, Esakoff, Pisarska, Gregory, 2017, Akca, Esmer, Ozyurek, Aydin, Korkmaz, Gorgen, Akbayir, 2017, Levett, Smith, Bensoussan, et al 2016, Simpson, Newman, Chirino, 2010).

A lot will happen with healthcare reform between now and our Advocacy Summit in October. But there will always be opportunities to support childbirth education—and to help improve access to an essential prenatal resource. Stay tuned and join us in October to help us advocate for childbirth education, comprehensive prenatal care, and common-sense policy that will improve the health and wellbeing of our future. The Advocacy Summit registration is now open.

References
Afshar, Y., Wang, E. T., Mei, J., Esakoff, T. F., Pisarska, M. D., & Gregory, K. D. (2017). Childbirth education class and birth plans are associated with a vaginal delivery. Birth44(1), 29-34.
Akca, A., Esmer, A. C., Ozyurek, E. S., Aydin, A., Korkmaz, N., Gorgen, H., & Akbayir, O. (2017). The influence of the systematic birth preparation program on childbirth satisfaction. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 295(5), 1127-1133.
Levett KM, Smith CA, Bensoussan A, et al. Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour. BMJ Open 2016;6: e010691. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2015-010691.
Simpson, K. R., Newman, G., & Chirino, O. R. (2010). Patients' perspectives on the role of prepared childbirth education in decision making regarding elective labor induction. The Journal of perinatal education19(3), 21-32.

About Molly Giammarco 

molly giammarco headshot 2017.jpgMolly Giammarco, MPP,  is Lamaze International’s Senior Manager of Government Relations. She obtained her BA from Smith College in Massachusetts and her MA in Public Policy from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Before joining Lamaze, Molly worked in the U.S. Senate for five years, where she focused on health policy.

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