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New Policy Statement from Society for Adolescent Medicine Urges Inclusion of Adolescent and Young Adult Health Issues in All Health Care Reform Legislation

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo., July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- As the discussion regarding health care reform moves through Congress and is debated in the public forum, a new policy statement from the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) urges all parties to include adolescent and young adult health issues in the dialogue.

Says Dr. Mary-Ann Shafer, President of SAM, "Many aspects of health care reform that are needed for adults and for younger children will also help adolescents. But adolescents require special attention and services to promote healthy development and a safe transition to adulthood."

According to the statement, "Adolescence provides a unique opportunity to prevent health conditions and behaviors with lifelong implications for individual young people and for society... Many adolescents experiment with 'adult' behaviors and are increasingly independent in personal habits. These behaviors and habits -- such as tobacco and alcohol use, other substance use and abuse, diet, exercise, sexual behavior and driving -- have significant implications for health."

"Unfortunately," says Dr. Shafer, "adolescents lack health insurance at higher rates than younger children, and young adults have the lowest rate of insurance over the lifespan. We are at a point in the health care reform discussion that promises great opportunities. Innovative proposals have been introduced, and SAM recognizes that many of the ideas on the table will have significant implications for this age group. The visibility for adolescent and young adult health issues must be raised because their needs are compelling."

The statement stresses the vital role that quality health care services can play in every adolescent's life and offers five principles to ensure that health care reform helps adolescents become healthy adults:

1. Assure financial access to services both through health insurance coverage that reaches all adolescents and through publicly funded safety net programs that provide special services to adolescents or reach special populations of young people.

2. Establish a comprehensive benefit package that includes services for prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of the full range of acute and chronic physical, mental, and behavioral health concerns and conditions that affect adolescents.

3. Help clinicians provide high-quality care to adolescents by supporting adolescent-focused education and training programs for health care professionals to expand the workforce prepared to serve adolescents; establishing reimbursement policies that provide adequate payment to a wide range of clinicians and include incentives to promote high-quality, cost-effective care; and establishing reimbursement policies that support delivery of services in diverse settings.

4. Ensure that confidentiality protections are in place for adolescents' communications with health care professionals and health care records, including electronic records, to help adolescents receive optimal care and learn to function independently in the health care system.

5. Address the needs of special populations of adolescents and young adults along with the general needs of adolescents, younger children, and adults. These groups include youths in public systems of care such as foster care and juvenile justice, homeless and runaway youths, pregnant and parenting teens, immigrant and migrant youth, youth from diverse racial and ethnic groups, sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth), and youth with chronic physical and mental health conditions or disabilities.

To read the entire policy statement, go to

For an interview or for more information, please contact Hollis Heavenrich-Jones at 773-383-5148 or via e-mail at For more information on adolescent health issues, go to

SAM is a multidisciplinary organization of health professionals who are committed to advancing the health and well-being of adolescents through education, research, clinical services, and advocacy activities. Members of the Society for Adolescent Medicine strive to enhance public and professional awareness of adolescent health issues among other health professionals, families, educators, policy makers, youth-serving organizations, and students considering a career in health care.

For more information, contact: Hollis Heavenrich-Jones at 773-383-5148 or via e-mail at

This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit

SOURCE The Society for Adolescent Medicine
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