Senator Barbara Mikulski Fights for Women’s Preventive Health Services

Washington, DC – Dec. 1, 2009 – Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Women’s Health Amendment today, the goal of which is to improve the Senate’s Health Care Reform Bill by requiring health plans to cover women’s preventive care (e.g., cervical screenings, annual mammograms for women under 50 opting such screening, antepartum and postpartum depression, heart disease, diabetes).  Such screenings would cut treatment costs via early detection and prevention.   

Here are excerpts of the summary of the bill:  Basically, what the amendment does is “require all health plans to cover comprehensive women’s preventive care and screenings, and cover these recommended services at no cost to women.”  The bill points out the current dilemma–i.e., women are increasingly delaying or skipping preventive health care due to costs, putting themselves at risk if a serious health issue is not prevented or detected early on.  Additionally, women’s unique health needs throughout their lifespan must be taken into account in determining coverage of preventive services.   

I was in shock and completely confused upon hearing the news a few weeks ago regarding the recommentation for mammographies and cervical cancer screenings to be performed on women 50 years of age and older.  I thought to myself ”What is going on here?  There hasn’t been a sharp decline in the occurrence (or deaths due to) breast cancer recently, nor have there been any new scientific breakthroughs with respect to early detection.  Same thing applies to cervical cancer.  It appears that women have once again been relegated to second class citizen status.  How can these people turn a blind eye like that toward women’s health?  The health of all its citizens–women included– should be the priority of the government of this country.”    

Fact of the matter is, until there is a better means of preventing and detecting breast cancer (and earlier), women in their 40s–particularly those with family histories of breast cancer–must have access to early mammogram screening.   Seeing how this amendment would also include PPD screening makes me hope all the more for this amendment gets passed.

Thank you, Senator Mikulski, for representing the interests of women by introducing the Women’s Health Amendment!

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