Women's Healthcare Update

The Senate has passed the healthcare bill amendment proposed by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) which "would require insurance companies to offer free mammograms and other preventive services to women."
"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."
Like other amendments to the bill, there's no guarantee it will end up in the final legislation, but it's good news that it passed.

Here's something interesting, though: Senator Russ Feingold, normally one of the most progressive Democrats in the Senate, voted against the amendment. His reason?
"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."
Echidne's response is spot-on: "Note how leaving these services out from the initial proposal can then make them into the bugbear that will bankrupt us."

This is the kind of shit that fuels conservatives' "special rights" memes about women, the LGBTQI community, people of color, people with disabilities, etc. People are excluded on the basis of not being straight, white, abled, cis men, and then when they propose legislation to lift them from the margins, they're accused of wanting "special rights."

It's absolutely despairing to see Feingold playing this game. I understand—and share—concerns about the cost of the healthcare reform as it's being conceived (i.e. with undeserved consideration for protecting insurance industry profits), but the attempt to ensure that women's basic healthcare isn't treated like something incidental to healthcare reform is not the place to make that point.

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