A victory for women in Congress today, as the Senate passed an amendment put forth by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), which would require insurance companies to offer various preventative services to women. The amendment passed in what (I suppose) technically counts as a bipartisan vote, with three Republicans voting alongside the Democratic majority.
From the New York Times:
Breaking a three-day stalemate, the Senate approved an amendment to its health care legislation that would require insurance companies to offer free mammograms and other preventive services to women.
The vote was 61 to 39, with three Republicans joining 56 Democrats and the two independents in favor.
The Republican senators voting in favor were the two women from Maine, Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, and David Vitter of Louisiana. Among Democratic senators, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Ben Nelson of Nebraska opposed the proposal.
[. . .]
“The insurance companies take being a woman as a pre-existing condition,” Ms. Mikulski said. “We face so many issues and hurdles. We can’t get health care. We can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions called a C-section.”
She added, “My amendment offers key preventive services, including an annual women’s health screening that would go to a comprehensive assessment, including the dangers to women in heart disease and in diabetes.”
As a point of interest to Feingold fans who may be scratching their heads right now:
Mr. Feingold, in a statement, said he voted against Ms. Mikulski’s proposal because of the projected cost of $940 million over 10 years.
“I am disappointed that the Senate health care debate has gotten off on the wrong foot,” he said. “The first amendment voted on would add almost a billion dollars to our budget deficits over the next 10 years. We should make sure health plans cover women’s preventive care and screenings, but we should also find a way to pay for it, rather than adding that cost to the already mountainous public debt.”
But most Democrats do not share Mr. Feingold’s position. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that the overall health care legislation would reduce future federal deficits by $130 billion over 10 years. Because the Democrats view the legislation as a single package, their position is that Ms. Mikulski’s amendment would simply mean a slightly lower reduction in future deficits over the 10-year period.
Thoughts? Anyone not pleased with the amendment? How do you feel about Feingold’s decision and reasoning? Consider this an open thread.