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ACOG Applauds Passage of Mikulski Amendment Guaranteeing Coverage of Women's Preventive Health Care

December 3, 2009

Washington, DC -- Gerald F. Joseph, Jr, MD, president of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), applauds today's Senate passage of the Mikulski Women's Health Amendment to HR 3590, the Senate health reform bill. The amendment guarantees coverage and affordability of critical women's preventive health care, including mammography screening for women under the age of 50, and ensures physician involvement in decisions on the need for screening.

"Health care decisions should be made by physicians and their patients, based on the needs of each individual, not by government task forces or agencies," says Dr. Joseph. "The Mikulski amendment helps ensure shared decision-making between a woman and her physician. It requires health plans to cover mammography and other preventive screening if a woman's physician says she needs it, based on federally recognized guidelines developed by relevant national medical specialties. ACOG commends Sen. Mikulski for her clear focus on women's health in health reform."

Introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the Women's Health Amendment (S. Amdt. 2791) fills a gap in the Senate health reform bill by making women's preventive health services a part of every health plan's basic benefits package and by guaranteeing little or no patient cost-sharing. The filibuster-proof 61-39 vote included support from Senate Republicans Susan Collins (ME) and David Vitter (LA).

The amendment is a response to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recent recommendation against routine mammography screening for women in their 40s, and less frequent routine screening for older women. "The Women's Health Amendment protects women from insurers who would use these recommendations to deny them coverage of important health screenings," notes Dr. Joseph.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 53,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care.