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.