SENATOR SHAHEEN FLOOR STATEMENT CALLS FOR FREE PREVENTIVE HEALTH SERVICES FOR WOMEN

December 01, 2009

Mr. President, I rise today in support of Senator Mikulski's amendment to ensure that women have access to preventive health care screenings and care at no cost. I wish to thank Senator Mikulski for her leadership not just in this effort but over the years to make sure women are treated fairly when it comes to our health care.

As a woman, a mother of three daughters and a grandmother of three granddaughters, this is an issue that is critically important to me personally. But as a former Governor, now a Senator and a policymaker, I understand these preventive services are not just good for women but they are good for families--for the children and husbands and brothers and fathers of the women we are talking about today. This amendment is good for our society as a whole.

Women must have access to vitally important preventive services such as screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, pregnancy, and postpartum depression screenings, annual well-woman visits, and preconception counseling that promotes healthier pregnancies and optimal birth outcomes. It is the right thing to do, but it is also fiscally responsible.

Not only does diagnosing disease early significantly increase a woman's chance for survival, but it also significantly decreases the projected costs of treatment. In fact, one recent study estimated that almost 80 percent of all health care spending in the United States can be attributed to potentially preventable chronic illness. This amendment takes a great step forward to early diagnosis of these costly and potentially preventable diseases. We must ensure these important services are provided at no cost.

Too often, women forgo their health care needs because they are not affordable. We know cost plays a greater role in preventing women from accessing health care than it does men. In 2007, more than half of all women reported problems accessing needed health care because of costs.

 It is clear we need to support Senator Mikulski's amendment that will give women access to important health care screening.

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