Healthcare organizations and agencies across the country, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), prioritized enhancing and expanding services like maternal and postpartum care and sexual and reproductive health during Women’s History Month, HHS announced in March 2022.
Celebrated annually in March, Women’s History Month commemorates and observes women’s vital role in American history. HHS said its commitment to ensuring women’s access to health care is a critical part of its core mission and reported its recent successes:
Expanded Access to Care and Preventive Services
HHS sought feedback on healthcare access topics such as coverage, services, and adequate provider payment rates. The agency also updated its women’s preventive services guidelines to prevent obesity in midlife, breastfeeding services and supplies, well-women preventive care visits, access to contraceptives, and counseling for contraceptives, HIV screening, and sexually transmitted infections.
HHS also launched the Federal Cervical Cancer Collaborative, an offshoot of the Cancer Moonshot that promotes cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment, and the Self-Measured Blood Pressure Partnership Program, which creates a network of organizations that empower women to maintain health blood pressure.
Expanded Maternal and Postpartum Care
HHS published reports on the American Rescue Plan’s option to extend post-partum Medicaid coverage, funded the Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality Program to reduce pregnancy-related deaths related to mental health conditions and violence, and launched programs and initiatives such as Black Maternal Health Week, a new quality measure for the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program, HHS Perinatal Improvement Collaborative, and Breastfeeding Program for African American mothers and families.
The department also extended Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program postpartum coverage for up to 12 months in certain states to extend access to care after pregnancy and expand community-based doula care to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy.
Strengthened Sexual and Reproductive Health
HHS issued a new regulation and $6.6 million in funding for Title X, the nation’s family planning program, to ensure access to family planning services. HHS also established an intra-agency task force on reproductive healthcare access to facilitate approaches to protect and bolster sexual and reproductive health.
Promoting behavioral health, addressing health disparities, preventing violence and supporting safety and healing, and building a stronger workforce are critical goals to ensure that women across the United States have access to quality health care, the agency said.
“Our commitment to women is not just a part of our history, it’s a critical part of our everyday mission. Our programs and initiatives over the last year have focused on improving the lives of women and their histories in their communities, homes, and workplaces,” HHS said. “Whether it’s developing and understanding the best practices for care delivery, raising awareness around disease and conditions that disproportionately impact women, or providing quality health care in federally funded health centers, we will continue to advance the health and well-being of every woman in America.”