Senate Safeguards Mammograms
Vote on amendment kicks off legislative debate on health care
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 3, 2009 2:47 PM CST
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday,Dec. 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – The Senate cast its first votes on remaking the nation's health care system today, approving an amendment to safeguard coverage of mammograms and preventive screening tests for women. The 61-39 vote on a provision by Democrat Barbara Mikulski and Republican Olympia Snowe was the first substantive ballot in an acrimonious health care debate that promises to go on for weeks.

The Mikulski amendment gives the health and human services secretary authority to require health plans to cover preventive services for women. The Maryland senator said it would guarantee that decisions are left to women and their doctors, not placed in the hands of bureaucrats or medical statisticians. The vote follows the controversy that erupted over a government advisory panel's recommendation that routine mammograms aren't needed for women in their 40s.