New Federal Definition Reflects APA Priorities on Domestic Violence Screening

On August 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an expanded definition of women’s preventive care that requires insurers to fully cover several preventive services, including domestic violence screening. The ruling closely follows advice released July 20 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Preventive Services for Women.

In a March 2011 statement, Gwendolyn P. Keita, PhD, Executive Director of APA's Public Interest Directorate, urged the IOM Committee to help expand access to domestic violence screening by strengthening recommendations for family and interpersonal violence screening.

Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring all new private health plans to cover several evidence-based preventive services, and this new definition expands critical access to women’s health services by eliminating copays starting August 2012. Insurers may "use reasonable medical management to help define the nature of the covered service," according to HHS. During their lifetimes, 25% of women in the United States are the target of intimate partner violence. Early detection and intervention increases safety and well-being.