ACP Outlines Steps to Improve Women's Healthcare Equity

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Healthcare is important to a woman’s personal, social, and economic well-being.
Healthcare is important to a woman’s personal, social, and economic well-being.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging policymakers to take steps to ensure that women receive appropriate, high-quality healthcare. This care is considered crucial to improving the overall well-being of women at all stages of life, according to an ACP press release.1

In a recent policy paper2 drafted by the ACP Health and Public Policy Committee, the ACP developed 7 positions and recommendations that healthcare providers should follow when providing healthcare to women. A summary of the recommendations follows.

  • The ACP believes that both internists and specialist physicians should receive appropriate training in women's health issues. Training should emphasize primary and comprehensive team-based care.
  • The ACP believes that women should have access to affordable, comprehensive, nondiscriminatory healthcare coverage. Insurers should not be allowed to charge higher premiums or impose cost-sharing based on sex or gender.
  • The ACP believes that respect for patient autonomy should be observed with regard to patients' individual health and reproductive decision-making rights. The ACP opposes government restrictions that would remove a woman's right to continue or discontinue a pregnancy. Women should have access to evidence-based family planning and medically-accepted contraceptive methods.
  • The ACP opposes legislation or regulations that limit access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
  • The ACP supports universal access to family and medical leave policies providing 6 weeks' minimum paid leave.
  • The ACP supports increased availability of screening tools for clinicians treating survivors of intimate partner or sexual violence. Increased patient education should be prioritized.
  • The ACP supports efforts to close the gaps of representation of women's health in clinical research and specific health issues.

“Over half of the US population is female and they are not only patients, but caregivers and representatives of their families, too,” said Ana Maria Lopez, MD, FACP, president of the ACP, said in a press release.1 “As the health care system evolves, women's health needs must be incorporated into policy discussions.”

Dr Lopez continued: “Health care is important to a woman's personal, social, and economic well-being. Policymakers must take into account women's health needs over their lifespan and take action to strengthen the healthcare system and societal structures to support them and their families.”

In an accompanying editorial,3 Carol J. Houge, PhD, MPH, and Wendy M. Book, MD, of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, applauded the actions of the ACP.

“Actions do speak louder than words,” they wrote. “[I]n the public policy arena, the actions of professional organizations are instigated and supported by the words of position papers. This timely and comprehensive position paper by [the] ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee can be a springboard for meaningful actions to improve training, clinical practice, partnerships for new approaches to health care, and social equity for America's women.”

References

  1. ACP calls for health care policies that better support women and their families and improve health outcomes [news release]. Washington, DC: American College of Physicians. Published May 28, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2018.
  2. Daniel H, Erickson SM, Bornstein SS, for the Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians. Women's Health Policy in the United States: An American College of Physicians position paper [published online May 28, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-3344
  3. Hogue CJ, Book WM. Women deserve better health care [published online May 28, 2018] Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M18-1258
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