Senate passes amendment backing mammo screening

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The U.S. Senate yesterday, by a 61-39 margin, responded to the mammogram screening controversy by passing an amendment to the healthcare bill that allows the government to require insurers to cover mammograms and other preventive tests at little or no cost.

The amendment would cover a range of women's health screenings, according to its co-sponsors, Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Under the amendment, preventive services covered would be based on guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

According to Mikulski, services covered by the amendment could include cervical cancer screenings, annual mammograms for women under 50, pregnancy and postpartum depression screenings, screenings for domestic violence, annual women’s health screening and family planning services.

Mikulski said that without the amendment there would be no guarantee that women under the age of 50 would be covered for mammograms and that there would be no guarantee that women would have access to this preventive care at no cost.

According to Mikulski, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of her amendment to be $940 billion over 10 years.

Snowe, as well as Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and David Vitter of Louisiana, were the only three Republicans to vote for the amendment, joining 56 democrats and two independents.

Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., voted against the amendment.