The health care reform debate generally seems like a mud-slinging slop fest, but at least it made some progress for women. Today, the Senate passed an amendment to mandate insurance companies to provide coverage of mammograms, pelvic exams, and other preventative services for women. It’s unclear if it covers birth control, though. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) put forth this amendment (estimated to cost $1 billion over the next 10 years) to fund possibly life-saving prevention measures.
Part of the controversy over Mikulski’s amendment, which politicos argued over for three whole days, centered on the recent muddying of the waters by a U.S. task force that suggested women should wait until age 50 to start getting mammograms. Still, despite the controversy, Mikulski managed to garner support from 56 Senate Democrats, three Republicans and two independents. Of those Republicans who voted in favor of the amendment, it’s interesting to note that two of the three were women (Sen. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine). Hmm, perhaps male pols don’t have quite the understanding that women pols do when it comes to the need for preventative screenings?
All this is welcome news for women, considering how the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which was attached to the House of Representatives’ version of the bill, will be screwing us ladies over big-time. If you can recall the brouhaha from a few weeks back, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment prohibits the use of federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the funds are not being used for an abortion itself. Basically that restriction encourages private insurance companies that want to take money from individuals who are using federal dollars to pay for their health insurance to not cover abortion at all. This could mean in the future that all of us will be footing the entire bill for abortions out-of-pocket by ourselves, regardless of the fact that a condom may have broken or we were raped.
Anyhoo, nothing is set in stone yet; after the House bill and the Senate bill are both passed, Stupack-Pitts may possibly be cut out of the bill Obama would sign into law. But so, too, could the Mikulski amendment. Stay tuned to see how things shake out! [The New York Times]
The Frisky last wrote about health care reform in “Why Are Abortion-Rights Activists Sending Coat Hangers To Politicians?”