Health Care Reform Round-Up: CBO Finds Some Insurance Savings, New Amendments Proposed

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Health Care Reform Round-Up: CBO Finds Some Insurance Savings, New Amendments Proposed

by Astrid Fiano, DOTmed News Writer | December 02, 2009

Mikulski noted that the Centers for Disease Control lists types of cancer including breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and ovarian cancer, as the most frequent fatal diseases for women. In addition, women have high risk of death from heart and vascular disease. Women face challenges from insurance companies, Mikulski stated-most prominently gender discrimination resulting in higher costs.

Mikulski further said that under the amendment, women will be able to obtain preventative care and screening, including mammograms, diabetes testing, and heart disease screening. Mikulski emphasized the benefits of mammograms in light of the recent controversy over mammography guidelines. "We don't mandate that you have a mammogram at age 40. What we say is discuss this with your doctor. But if your doctor says you need one, you are going to get one. My amendment also leaves the decision of which preventive services a patient will use between the doctor and the patient."

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Senator John McCain (R-AZ), offered an amendment from the Republican site that would strip away cuts in the bill pertaining to Medicare. The amendment would include removal of Medicare Advantage cuts totaling -$118.1 billion; Medicare disproportionate share hospital payment changes totaling -20.6 billion; and cuts to advanced imaging services totaling -3.0 billion. McCain stated that the "...cuts that are envisioned by this bill...would directly impact the health care of citizens in this country...All of these are cuts in the obligations we have assumed and that are the rightful benefits people have earned--particularly our senior citizens--across this Nation."

On Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) filed the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 as an amendment to the bill. The legislation is the same as that which the senator previously introduced in September. The amendment would repeal the antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance providers and, Senator Leahy said, "ensure that the basic rules of fair competition apply to the industry as part of the reforms that the larger health care bill will enact. Our Nation's antitrust laws exist to protect consumers, and it is vital that the health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies are subject to these laws."

Leahy went on to say that the amendment is supported by the Consumer Federation of America, Health Care for American Now, and the American Hospital Association. Leahy also stated that he had received support from 10 State attorneys general who felt the legislation would not only enhance competition, but also give state and federal enforcers "additional tools to combat harmful anti-competitive conduct."