(1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature recognizes that the health care needs of women are gender-specific and that public policy must take into account the distinct characteristics of women’s health issues. Priority shall be given to improve the overall health status of women through research and education on women’s health issues. The Legislature recognizes the importance of understanding why there are such large differences between how women and men experience certain diseases and also recognizes that biomedical research is the key to finding these answers. Such research has important implications for both women and men in terms of clinical practice and disease prevention and manifestation. The Legislature recognizes that as the state’s population continues to age and life expectancy for women continues to rise, it is of the utmost importance for the Legislature to encourage effective medical research on long-term health issues for women and to educate elder women about the importance of participating in medical studies. The Legislature finds and declares that the design and delivery of health care services and the medical education of health care practitioners shall be directed by the principle that health care needs are gender-specific.
(2) DUTIES.—The Officer of Women’s Health Strategy in the Department of Health shall:
(a) Ensure that the state’s policies and programs are responsive to sex and gender differences and to women’s health needs across the life span.
(b) Organize an interagency Committee for Women’s Health for the purpose of integrating women’s health programs in current operating and service delivery structures and setting priorities for women’s health. This committee shall be comprised of the heads or directors of state agencies with programs affecting women’s health, including, but not limited to, the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Education, the Department of Elderly Affairs, the Department of Corrections, the Office of Insurance Regulation of the Department of Financial Services, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
(c) Assess the health status of women in the state through the collection and review of health data and trends.
(d) Review the state’s insurance code as it relates to women’s health issues.
(e) Work with medical school curriculum committees to develop course requirements on women’s health and promote clinical practice guidelines specific to women.
(f) Organize statewide Women’s Health Month activities.
(g) Coordinate a Governor’s statewide conference on women’s health, cosponsored by the agencies participating in the Committee for Women’s Health and other private organizations and entities impacting women’s health in the state.
(h) Promote research, treatment, and collaboration on women’s health issues at universities and medical centers in the state.
(i) Promote employer incentives for wellness programs targeting women’s health programs.
(j) Serve as the primary state resource for women’s health information.
(k) Develop a statewide women’s health plan emphasizing collaborative approaches to meeting the health needs of women. The plan shall: 1. Identify activities designed to reduce the number of premature deaths in women, including:
a. Providing specific strategies for reducing the mortality rate of women.
b. Listing conditions that may cause or contribute to disease in women and the best methods by which to identify, control, and prevent these conditions from developing.
c. Identifying the best methods for ensuring an increase in the percentage of women in the state who receive diagnostic and screening testing.
2. Provide for increasing research and appropriate funding at institutions in the state studying disease in women.
3. Provide recommendations for the development of practice guidelines for addressing disease in women.
4. Provide recommendations for reducing health disparities among women in all races and ethnic groups.
5. Coordinate with existing program plans that address women’s health issues.
(l) Promote clinical practice guidelines specific to women.
(m) Serve as the state’s liaison with other states and federal agencies and programs to develop best practices in women’s health.
(n) Develop a statewide, web-based clearinghouse on women’s health issues and resources.
(o) Promote public awareness campaigns and education on the health needs of women.
(p) By January 15 of each year, provide the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a report with policy recommendations for implementing the provisions of this section.
(3) DUTIES OF OTHER STATE AGENCIES.—
(a) Women’s health issues shall be taken into consideration in the annual budget planning of the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Department of Elderly Affairs.
(b) The inclusion of gender considerations and differential impact shall be one of the criteria when assessing research and demonstration proposals for which state funding is being sought from the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Department of Elderly Affairs.
(c) Boards or advisory bodies that fall under the purview of the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Department of Elderly Affairs shall be encouraged to seek equal representation of women and men and the inclusion of persons who are knowledgeable and sensitive to gender and diversity issues.
(4) RESPONSIBILITY AND COORDINATION.—The officer and the department shall direct and carry out the Women’s Health Strategy established under this section in accordance with the requirements of this section and may work with the Executive Office of the Governor and other state agencies to carry out their duties and responsibilities under this section.