Some good news about women and health care (for a change)

The Women’s Health Amendment was passed by the Senate yesterday with a vote of 61-39. Woot!
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) proposed this amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will require all health care plans to cover women’s comprehensive preventative care and screenings (like gyno exams, mammograms, STD testing and treatment and family planning) with no cost to women (or with limited co-pays).
Amie over at RH Reality Check gives us the rundown, although noting that this particular amendment doesn’t yet specify whether birth control is covered or not, but women’s health advocates seem to be hopeful:

While the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not birth control falls under this list, it seems at the moment there is no clear answer. While contraception is not specifically listed in the amendment, Tait Sye, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Federation of America tells me,
‘It allows Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) [editor's note: the Health and Human Services department developing these guidelines] to recommend what should be covered, so HRSA can/could recommend birth control be covered.’
According to a Senate Democratic aide, responding to concerns that birth control is not specifically called-out in the amendment, if individual drugs or ‘even categories of drugs’ were listed, ‘we would have seen amendments filed on each one (or each category). I trust Sebelius [Kathleen Sebelius, head of HHS] to do the right thing with respect to covering birth control.’

Let’s also not forget abortion coverage in health care reform legislation is still in danger.
However, the most significant thing about the Women’s Health Amendment is that it could potentially save the lives of millions of low-income women who often skip basic health care exams and screenings because of added costs, says the National Women’s Law Center. And that’s huge.

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7 Comments

  1. borrow_tunnel
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I’d love for them to write something in one of these health care bills about NOT having to get a pap smear done before you have access (not cheaper access, just access PERIOD) to birth control pills. I don’t mind pap smears, I really don’t. But if I don’t think getting one done each year is necessary then that should be up to me. If I want to die of cancer, that’s for me to deal with, not my insurance or government or whoever else mandates that.

  2. Human Bean
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I just hopped over here from the NY Times, which has a story on the doctor who’s taking up the cause after Dr. Tiller’s murder:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/us/04abortion.html?hpw
    Also interesting, with regard to the Stupak battle, is the article’s mention of the fee he charges for a late-term abortion, about $2100. That’s not exactly pocket change, even for a middle class woman or family. The point being, I guess, that the argument that Stupak isn’t a big deal because women can just pay out of pocket is completely bogus. (I mean, it was always bogus, but I’ve seen people toss around numbers like $200-300.)

  3. cattrack2
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Late term abortions actually start out in the price range but the later the term, the more the complications, risk and cost. So it could be as much as $5K. On the other hand the more typical earlier abortions could, in fact, be $200-$300.

  4. theology_nerd
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    If you want to die of cancer, your doctors appointments and medical bills will cost a lot of money for your insurance company or for the government. Therefore, they have a vested interest in keeping you from getting cancer, so I think it makes sense for them to mandate a certain degree of preventative care. If access to birth control pills is an incentive that will motivate women to take charge of their reproductive health, then so be it.
    In regards to the article, I say “yay!” to women’s health being covered, and I certainly hope that birth control will be covered in there. Because I am morally opposed to abortion, I see contraception as being one of the primary ways to PREVENT abortion, so I don’t understand why so many people who label themselves “pro-life” are so firmly against something that will prevent unplanned pregnancies!

  5. cattrack2
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Honestly, on this issue, I’m awfully conflicted. This is a slap in the face to science based health care. (Someone on the evening news last night actually said she doesn’t “trust evidence based health care”.) It also misinterprets the communication about mammograms that was issued.
    If Congress starts legislating the details of health care policy we really won’t be able afford nat’l health care. They will legislate in procedures and exams that are unnecessary and not provide a single cent to pay for them. My health care is too important to be legislated by a spineless, where is the wind blowing now Congress, addicted to deficit financing.

  6. Veronica
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    agreed

  7. ChristineWithRegence
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Check out this fun, short video. It makes you wonder why our health care system is set up the way it is.

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