There still may be question if we're going to get those insurance exchanges and larger Medicaid coverage. But starting this month, Louisiana's ladies get access to new services as part of the Affordable Care Act. Most people already know about one provision of the law that allows access to birth control through private health plans, and the attendant political powder keg. But there are a host of other health services, which are available free of co-pays and deductibles as part of exisiting insurance plans. They range from breast and cervical cancer screenings to prenatal care to domestic violence screenings and counseling.
At a press conference earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said the new provisions will extend these services to 600,000 women in Louisiana.
"These preventive services help catch illnesses early and save lives. This will greatly benefit Louisiana, which leads the nation in cervical and breast cancer mortality rates," Landrieu said.
The five year survival rate for cervical cancer is 93 percent for women diagnosed in early stages, while only 13 percent among women in later stages. The breast cancer diagnosis rate in Louisiana is among the lowest in the country, but the death rate is among the highest. Officials hope more early screenings will allow more time for treatment.
The new services also include provisions for neonatal care, including breastfeeding support and supplies - including access to pumps and and other nursing-related equipment. Women 24-28 weeks will also be eligible for gestational diabetes screenings.
Domestic violence screening and counselling is also being offered, along with HPV screening for women age 30 and older.
A final new provision called well-woman visits allows all women to meet with health practictioners once a year to determine preventive services that are appropriate.
The services were available to women as of August 1. Governors and legislatures cannot take away the services, Landrieu said.