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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
Date:7/14/2009

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
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SOURCE The Society for Adolescent Medicine
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