United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today voted for an amendment to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which would require all health plans to cover comprehensive women's preventive care and screenings at no additional cost to women. The amendment, which was authored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, would also preserve the doctor-patient relationship and protect patients' ability to consult with their doctors on what services are best for them.
"Women are increasingly skipping or delaying routine treatment and essential medical screenings because of the high cost of care," Sen. Landrieu said. "As a result, one in four Louisiana women over the age of 40 has not received a mammogram in the past two years, and Louisiana has the highest occurrence of breast cancer of any state in the nation. Another 15 percent of pregnant Louisiana women received insufficient prenatal care. This is an alarming trend that we must help reverse.
"Thanks to the Mikulski amendment, women will now have access to affordable and comprehensive preventative services, which will encourage women to seek care before they get sick. This improves the overall health of women in our nation and will ultimately drive down health care costs for all Americans."
Currently, the Senate health care bill encourages minimum coverage of preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. This provision includes some women's preventive services such as osteoporosis screenings. However, coverage of preventive services must take into account the unique health needs of women throughout their lifespan.
The improvement to the bill supported by Sen. Landrieu ensures coverage of women's preventive services based on guidelines developed by women's health experts that meet all of women's unique preventive health needs. The amendment also preserves the doctor-patient relationship and allows patients to consult with their doctors on what services are best for them. For instance, should a woman under 50 decide to receive an annual mammogram, this amendment will cover it. Cervical cancer screenings for a broad group of women, annual mammograms for women under 50, pregnancy and postpartum depression screenings, screenings for domestic violence, and annual women's health screening would all be covered.
Despite claims by the bill's critics, never has abortion been defined as a preventive service. This amendment only covers preventive services.