First-Ever NQF-Endorsed Contraceptive Quality Measures a ‘Welcome Step Forward for Women’s Health,’ Ness Says
“The National Quality Forum’s (NQF) first-ever endorsement of contraceptive measures is a welcome step forward in promoting high-quality family planning care for women nationwide. With more than 300 measures currently endorsed, it is past time for this essential preventive health service to be included in the gold standard of health care quality measurement.
We commend NQF for addressing the gaps in quality measures for contraceptive access and counseling, and applaud the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) for the development and research it took to win endorsement of these contraceptive measures. Access to the full range of contraceptive methods and quality, patient-centered counseling is essential preventive health care for women; it is also vitally important to advancing economic security for women and families.
The three measures announced today, and endorsed in December as part of NQF’s Perinatal and Reproductive Health Care Standing Committee Report, provide much-needed guidance for improving postpartum care by helping women plan and space healthy pregnancies, closing the gap in access to contraceptives and patient-centered counseling, and addressing barriers that create disparities in access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs).
Our country has a shameful history of reproductive coercion, which has caused grave harm, especially to low-income, uninsured, young, immigrant and incarcerated women, women of color and LGBT people. We endorse the LARC statement of principles developed by the National Women’s Health Network and SisterSong and are confident that the new contraceptive quality measures were designed to work against coercion. However, we must guard against unintended coercion by pairing these contraceptive quality measures with a woman-reported ‘balancing measure’ of experience of receiving contraceptive care. We commend OPA for working to develop such a measure.
We commend the Committee for its endorsement of 12 continuing perinatal measures, of new electronic measures that expand ways to collect two of those and of a continuing chlamydia screening measure. However, the new report identifies many important aspects of maternal-newborn and reproductive health care for which no robust quality measures are available. While the newly endorsed quality measures – and the continuing endorsement of others – are positive news for women’s and newborns’ health, we are disappointed with the new subpar maternity care measures that were presented and then roundly rejected by NQF. We will continue to work with stakeholders to foster availability and use of strong measures to help drive needed improvement in the quality of maternal, newborn and reproductive health care.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.