Women's Health

Issues: Health Care

The Affordable Care Act makes great strides for women's health by expanding access to preventive services, giving nursing mothers the right to reasonable accommodation to breastfeed at work, eliminating discrimination against women in health insurance plans and ensuring that women have the option to give birth in birth centers as well as in hospitals.

Find out more about health reform's support of women's health.

Accessible and affordable preventive services are essential to staying healthy - and women have unique health needs.  A distinguished panel of scientists reviewed the data and selected preventive services for women that had strong scientific backing.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health plans must now provide women with the following preventive services without cost sharing:

  • well-woman visits;
  • screening for gestational diabetes;  
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for women 30 years and older;
  • sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling;
  • and domestic violence screening and counseling.  

To find out more about preventative services for women: https://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/

Gynecologic Cancers and Johanna's Law

In 2005, I introduced the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act. Congress passed the bill in 2007. The bill is referred to as Johanna's Law in honor of Johanna Silver Gordon, a Southfield high school teacher who died of ovarian cancer in 2000. The legislation created a federal education campaign to increase awareness and early detection of gynecological cancers. To view the website for the education campaign, housed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, please click here.

We need to find cures for breast and gynecological cancers.  I fully support funding for the DoD Congressionally-direct research programs to fund innovative research for breast and ovarian cancers.  Further, I support the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, which ensures that women diagnosed with breast cancer get the best care. 

Breastfeeding Promotion

Breastfeeding has been recognized as mutually beneficial to both mothers and babies. Babies who are breastfed are found to have lower rates of mortality, meningitis, cancers, asthma, infections, juvenile diabetes, allergies and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and continue to breastfeed with supplemental food until the child is at least one year old.

In the past, tax laws denied nursing mothers tax deductions and tax credits for breast pumps and other nursing supplies. This rule was contrary to best medical practices and an illogical and unnecessary barrier and burden for nursing mothers. To fix this serious problem, I worked with Representative Carolyn Maloney and 32 other members of the House of Representatives and eleven members of the Senate to urge Douglas Shulman, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, to change the regulations to permit the deductions of these supplies. In February 2011 we received confirmation from the Internal Revenue Service that breast feeding supplies would be permitted as tax deductions and tax credits under existing legal requirements. Click Here to see the letter that the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service sent to me.

In addition, despite the extensive health benefits associated with breastfeeding for both mothers and babies, breastfeeding women still face considerable challenges in public and at work. Women are not guaranteed the time or the space to breastfeed or pump milk in private while at work, making it difficult for many to continue breastfeeding while working. The health care reform law includes a provision that gives breastfeeding mothers the right to reasonable accommodation for breastfeeding at their workplace.  To that end, I am a cosponsor of the Supporting Working Moms Act, which would extend the requirement that certain employers provide reasonable break time for mothers to breastfeed.

 (Updated September 2017)