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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

IOM Recommends Full Coverage of Contraceptives, Other Reproductive Health Care Under Health Reform

In a new--and much-anticipated--report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is recommending that health reform guidelines for preventive care to be developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) include a full range of reproductive health services, including all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) without a co-pay.  In developing these and other recommendations for women's preventive health care, the IOM took into account the recommendations of medical bodies and of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating important health needs and outcomes.

Apart from coverage of contraceptive supplies, the IOM also breaks new ground with recommendations on inclusion of screening for gender-based and domestic violence, education, testing, and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and inclusion of other essentials to a broader package of "well-woman" care as part of basic insurance coverage.

In total, the IOM report recommends inclusion of eight preventive health services for women at no cost under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The ACA requires plans to cover the services listed in HHS's comprehensive list of preventive services.  At the agency's request, an IOM committee identified critical gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women's health and well-being.

HHS has set its own self-imposed deadline of August 2nd for release of these final guidelines.
Read more at RH Reality Check

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birth Control Without Copays Could Become Mandatory

The Institute of Medicine is expected to make its recommendations about preventative health care services for women that will be included in the Affordable Care Act, and birth control without copays is service that is drawing a lot of attention.
Is there nothing in last year's Affordable Care Act that people won't fight over?

The latest battle is set to come to a head Wednesday, when the independent Institute of Medicine is expected to make recommendations about preventive health care services for women. And one service that's drawing a lot of the attentions is contraception.

Depending on the group's recommendation, contraception could become part of a package of preventive benefits that every health plan would have to cover without patient cost-sharing. In other words, it would become effectively free.
Read more at NPR

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011

Using a mix of old a new strategies, 19 states have enacted 162 new laws related to reproductive rights and health in the first six months of 2011.  More are currently in the pipeline.
In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dan Shapiro sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in Dan Shapiro as the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel on Friday, in a ceremony at the State Department.

Shapiro was until recently the director of the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Before that he acted as U.S. President Barack Obama's adviser on the Middle East and Jewish community relations during Obama’s presidential campaign.

At the ceremony, Clinton said she has every confidence in Shapiro’s ability to represent the country and the Obama Administration, and to help them "write a new chapter in the enduring partnership between United States and Israel.”
Read more at HaAretz

Friday, July 08, 2011

House warns P.A. on statehood moves

In a bi-partisan resolution sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the US House of Representatives echoed a similar resolution by the Senate urging the Palestinian Authority to not bypass direct negotiations with Israel.  The resolution warned of potential serious implications for US-Palestinian relations should they continue to pursue recognition of statehood via the UN as opposed to direct talks.

The U.S. House of Representatives threatened to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if it pursues recognition of statehood outside of negotiations with Israel.

A resolution passed Thursday night by a vote of  406 to 6 "affirms that Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations and pursue recognition of statehood prior to agreement with Israel will harm United States-Palestinian relations and will have serious implications for the United States assistance programs for the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority."

The non-binding resolution is similar to one passed last month by the Senate.

Read more at JTA

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Abortion Wars: Taking It To The States

Elections do matter, individual votes do make a difference.  This has become more apparent regarding reproductive rights in the last year than ever before.
The nation's abortion wars, simmering but largely quiet in recent years, have begun boiling again.

Nowhere has the battle been more pitched than in Kansas, where the Legislature this session passed four anti-abortion measures and attempted to adopt strict new licensing rules that this week came within hours of closing down the state's last abortion provider.

Late Thursday, Kansas officials agreed to license Planned Parenthood's Overland Park surgical facility, which provides abortions, after the organization scrambled to comply with the week-old clinic rules by Friday's deadline. That deadline was annulled Friday when a federal judge blocked the new licensing laws.
Read more at NPR

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Editorial: Palestinian Stunts Undermine Peace Efforts

A recent editorial in the Near East Report looks at what the Palestinian Authority has been doing to progress potential peace talks.
Over the past few months, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been waging a campaign that has nothing to do with peacemaking. Instead, the PA is trying to isolate the Jewish state in the international arena. This campaign consists of a number of stunts that make a peace agreement less likely. 

First, the PA has persisted in its refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. If the PA wanted to make peace with Israel, it would talk to Israel, at a minimum. Despite PA President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to sit down for face-to-face talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken far-reaching steps to demonstrate his commitment to negotiations. In the past two years, he has announced his support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel multiple times and reduced barriers to movement in the West Bank. Netanyahu also implemented a 10-month freeze on housing construction in the West Bank, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded as "unprecedented."
It's not just that Abbas refuses to talk. He has led an international campaign to bypass negotiations by winning support for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. These efforts focus on seeking a U.N. Security Council vote in September recommending that the U.N. General Assembly recognize Palestinian statehood and admit the Palestinian state as a full U.N. member state. In case the United States vetoes the motion at the Security Council, Abbas plans to seek General Assembly recognition of Palestinian statehood without full U.N. membership. (Under the U.N. charter, admission to full U.N. membership requires a Security Council recommendation prior to General Assembly approval.)
 Read more at Near East Report