Omaha Senator Introduces Women's Health Package To Legislature

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As part of the Women’s Get Covered Week of Action, Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist announced Thursday he is introducing legislation that would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to submit a state plan amendment to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide medical assistance for family planning services for persons whose family earned income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

“States who have obtained family planning waivers have saved millions of dollars in their own Medicaid programs,” Nordquist said. “A focus on prevention in women’s health will create healthier families and communities and will reduce health care costs, as well as social and economic costs in the long run.”

The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that this legislation would save $4.17 for every dollar spent, totaling $28.5 million.

Reports show that half of all pregnancies in the United States each year—more than three million—are unintended; by the age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, while three in 10 will have had an abortion.

“We can improve the health of families in Nebraska by offering preventive health care services and empowering people to make healthier choices for themselves and their families,” Nordquist said.

Currently 29 states, including neighboring states of Iowa and Missouri, have obtained federal approval to extend Medicaid eligibility for family planning services to individuals who would otherwise not be eligible. Sixteen states operate their programs under a waiver from the federal government; 13 states operate their programs through a state plan amendment.

The bill also would appropriate $500,000 in fiscal year 2015-16 and FY16-17 to fund education and outreach as well as services for medically underserved women including: mammograms; breast examinations; pap smears; colposcopy; associated laboratory costs; and preventive health and family planning services.

“Good health comes from investing in prevention,” Nordquist said.