Senator Barbara Mikulski fights for inclusion of pregnancy and postpartum depression screenings!

Senator Mikulski also includes screenings for breast, ovarian and cervical cancer in healthcare reform bill…

Today on Capitol Hill Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made an empassioned plea to add health screenings to reform that would enhance benefits to women. She made the point that Senators on Capitol Hill currently enjoy these critical benefits for such screenings and that including them in healthcare reform would cut costs through early detection and primary prevention!

She spoke of the devastation of the cancers that primarily afflict women and which can be deadly, breast, ovarian and cervical cancer (see last week’s CBS Cares story on Pap Smears). You can watch the video of her presentation to understand more about what her proposal covers.

In addition, she strongly urged that screening for postpartum depression be included in healthcare reform citing the often devastating consequences of untreated maternal depression. This amendment introduced today by Senator Mikulski, a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would guarantee women access to preventive health care screenings and care at no cost.

One comment I felt was most memorable was when Senator Mikulski stated “For many insurance companies, simply being a woman is a pre-existing condition,” Covered preventive services would not require copayments, just as there are currently no copayments for such services for Congressmen enrolled in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan. This is an essential protection for women’s access to preventive health care not currently covered in other prevention sections of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

While the Senator supports the current bill before Congress, she felt “we could do more to enhance and improve women’s health care.”

Services covered under the amendment are based on guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. Services that would be covered under the Mikulski Amendment are likely to include 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 screenings, which would include testing for diseases that are leading causes of death for women such as heart disease and diabetes.

Thank you to Senator Mikulski for your passionate attention to women’s health. Those of you who support this amendment should immediately contact your representatives to indicate support or write/call Senator Mikulski’s office.

For a summary of the bill, click here

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