WOMEN’S HEALTH: NY Democrats Criticize Scope Of Care
Three New York City members of Congress charged yesterday that HMOs "treat women as 'second-class citizens' by refusing to pay for necessary medical procedures," the New York Post reports. Democratic Reps. Charles Schumer, Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler accused managed care companies of putting profits above the health of their members. "The companies are bending over backward to deprive women of necessary treatment. It is often women who are bending over backward to pay for a procedure that is necessary, but is not covered by these health plans," Maloney said. Specifically, they cited HMOs' lack of coverage for early osteoporosis detection, which "costs the nation $10 billion a year in hip replacements" and other operations. Schumer also cited the lack of contraceptive coverage as a major concern. All three legislators proposed bills to remedy these shortcomings in the system. Maloney has submitted the Osteoporosis Early Detection and Prevention Act, that would mandate coverage for testing. Schumer proposed a "Health Care Insurance Bill of Rights for Women." Nadler introduced a bill that would require medical decisions to be based on a physician's opinion, "not some bureaucrat thousands of miles away" (Graves, 3/2).
Parties Competing For Women's Vote
In a related story, the Los Angeles Times reports that politicians are courting the female vote. "Much of what is on Congress' agenda, such as reforming public education and preserving Social Security and Medicare, is not overtly gender-specific. But it directly addresses concerns more often voiced by women than men," the Times reports. In addition, a slew of gender-specific bills have been introduced in Congress, including one by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that would establish a woman's right to breast-feed in the workplace. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio said, "What you have now is, the Democrats feel that the female vote is what they need in order to win, and so they are protecting her." Republicans, too, are attempting to bridge the so-called "gender gap." Observing the trend, Sen. John Chafee (R-RI) advised his colleagues against engaging in "mommy wars." Yet even he is "drafting a plan to provide tax credits for stay-at-home parents and government subsidized day care" (Chen, 3/2).