Massachusetts Medical Society: Affordable Care Act Provisions Concerning Intimate Partner Violence

Affordable Care Act Provisions Concerning Intimate Partner Violence

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) or “Obamacare,” enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010, includes a number of provisions related to women’s health that expand access to preventive care, including specific provisions related to “interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling” (see

Specifically, beginning in August 2012, the ACA has required most health care plans to cover, without copayment or other cost sharing, eight recommended preventive services for women of childbearing age, including screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence (see inset below).

Womens Preventative Services

It should be noted that the ACA provisions regarding interpersonal and domestic violence are a coverage requirement, and not a screening requirement. These provisions represent a guarantee of payment for services rendered, with an underlying implied expectation that sexual and domestic violence screening and counseling should be considered standard practice. The term “screening” is broadly defined and thus is left largely to the discretion of individual providers and health plans. The term “counseling” refers to the provision of basic information and referrals to community-based agencies or other appropriate resources.

Under the ACA, screening and counseling for IPV can be provided at least once a year (but may be offered more frequently for individual patients), and can take place in any health care setting.*

*Additional information about the IPV provisions of the ACA can be found at

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