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Healthcare Reform to Increase Domestic Violence Screenings

PHOTO: Image of doctor with clipboard
PHOTO: Image of doctor with clipboard
August 6, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - Screening for domestic violence is one of the eight preventive-care tests patients can get at no cost under the part of health-care reform that went into effect last week.

This is critical, says Kirsten Faisal, director of training and technical assistance for the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, because it's common for victims to confide in their doctor.

"The number one system that they turn to is not victim services. It's not calling law enforcement. The number one place people will turn to is their health-care provider."

In a push to improve preventive medical care, the health-care reform says insurance companies can no longer charge for many basic screenings, including the domestic-violence screening.

Critics of the health-care law say it will be too expensive, but Faisal says treating domestic violence early and aggressively can save money. Intimate-partner violence costs the U.S. billions each year in lost workdays and expenses related to mental-health and substance abuse, she says, adding that the physical impact goes beyond the immediate injuries.

"It impacts things like triggering asthma. It increases your risk of high blood pressure, of heart disease."

Another change in the health-care law is that women's domestic-violence insurance claims can't be denied as part of a pre-existing condition.

The national domestic-violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.

Richard Alan, Public News Service - IA