The women’s health provisions in the Affordable Care Act that went into effect Aug. 1 will help keep women healthier at every stage of life, says Magda Peck, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health.
Peck was one of 15 national experts on women’s health who served on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Preventive Services Committee. In 2010-11, the committee conducted a study on potential gaps in coverage specific to women. As a result of that study, says Peck, the IOM recommended eight additional services be included in the Affordable Care Act’s preventive care provisions, and all eight were adopted into law.
Peck, a public health scientist who is a recognized national leader in maternal and child health, participated in the IOM panel from November 2010-July 2011, while she was professor and associate dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. She joined UWM as founding dean of the university’s new Zilber School of Public Health in March 2012. Her work for women’s health was a good fit with UWM’s school, she says, because one research and education emphasis of the new school will be advancing the health of women and children in Milwaukee and other major cities.
“It was an honor to serve the nation as a scientific member of the IOM expert panel on preventive services for women,” she says. “We found significant evidence that there were unacceptable gaps in the original law passed. Women have unique health needs, may experience some diseases differently than men and bear a higher burden of many chronic diseases.”
While much public and media attention has focused on the law’s contraception mandates, the law’s preventive care provisions for women go beyond that, notes Peck. “All insured women now can access well-woman visits without having to pay additional out-of-pocket costs. And women will be able to receive a range of preventive care services – including screening and counseling for domestic violence, screening for diabetes during pregnancy, and breastfeeding supplies and counseling – without additional co-pay.
“This will translate into healthier women at every age and stage of life, and overall cost savings both for women and the nation in the long run.”