Affordable Care Act Covers Screening and Treatment for Domestic Violence

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An estimated 25% of women in the United States report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions that increase the safety of abused women. Beginning August 2012, millions of women began having access to preventive services for interpersonal violence and domestic violence through the Affordable Care Act.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to join together and take new steps to prevent violence in our communities. In a proclamation by the President of the United States of America, President Obama says:

“For far too long, domestic violence was ignored or treated as a private matter where victims were left to suffer in silence without the hope of intervention. We have made significant progress in changing laws and attitudes, providing support to survivors, and reducing the incidence of domestic violence. But we also know that we have not come far enough, and that there is more work left to be done.”

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This year marks the 18th anniversary of the landmark “Violence Against Women Act,” a law that provides funds toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in unprosecuted cases. Programs and services provided under the law include:

  • Community violence prevention programs
  • Protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
  • Funding for victim assistance services, like rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
  • Programs and services for victims with disabilities
  • Legal aid for survivors of violence

The Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, helps make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring health plans to cover recommended preventive services without cost sharing. But lawmakers realize that women have unique needs that were not currently covered by the policies.

Beginning August of this year, the HHS adopted additional Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services which, in part, provides millions of women guaranteed access to screening by a physician for acts of violence with no out-of-pocket costs. The policy is in effect for those health plans that are started or renewed on or after August 1, 2012.

President Obama concludes in his proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month that “all Americans can play a role in ending domestic violence. Each of us can promote healthy relationships, speak out when we see injustice in our communities, stand with survivors we know, and change attitudes that perpetuate the cycle of abuse.”

To learn more, victims and their loved ones can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit www.TheHotline.org.

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