The Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services celebrates National Women’s Health Week as a way to highlight the important health issues women face. This year, the group has created guidelines by age, offering specific recommendations for women to check in on their health. Elected women policy makers have always led the way in healthcare, and research shows that in the absence of women in the legislature, vulnerable populations would be more at risk.
Recently, states have been working on legislation related to Medicaid expansion, and maintaining adaptability in the world of changing healthcare reform. In one example, Georgia passed SB 302 in 2016, with the support of women legislators Senator Elena Parent and Senator Renee Unterman, which requires health insurance providers to create accessible directories that ensure consumers get accurate information about the providers and facilities that their health insurance will cover.
This session, women across the country have been working on mammogram screening legislation. Kentucky passed HB78 with the support of women legislators Representative Regina Bunch and Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty, and Iowa passed SF250. Last year’s session saw the issue discussed in several other states. Advocacy groups like Are You Dense have been working on this issue for years, and legislative awareness has risen.
As May is also Mental Health Awareness month, it is important to remember that addressing mental health and substance abuse is critical. Let by women legislators, Senator Jen Flanagan, Senator Karen Spilka, and Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, Massachusetts passed the much lauded substance use bill in 2016 which focused on prescribing limits, and several other states have followed suit.
Mental Health America has detailed state rankings measuring access to care, reported cases, and availability of a trained mental health workforce. The highly ranked Connecticut is still looking for ways to improve their mental health services. Representative Diana Urban recently sponsored legislation during the 2017 session to help patients better understand the philosophy of their therapist, and requiring mental health counsellors to provide their patients with information about their methodology.
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