Arianna Huffington's Jan. 9 column, "Drive-by politics," on the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act, introduced by myself, Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and Reps. Susan Molinari and Frank LoBiondo, misses the point entirely.
She raises the red flag of new government mandates in health care - in this case, a reasonable hospital stay following a mastectomy and the right to a second opinion for a cancer diagnosis - when, in fact, the only mandate included in this legislation is that medical decisions be made by doctors, not by insurance companies. Far from "micro-managing medical decisions," this legislation seeks to protect the doctor-patient relationship in this most critical of procedures, ensuring that the individual needs of all women are fully addressed.
The fact is that women's health issues have long been downplayed both in terms of treatment and research funding. This legacy, coupled with the dramatic growth in managed care operations, has produced some serious deficiencies in women's health coverage. We successfully addressed one of these in the 104th Congress with respect to maternity care. Now, during this session, we need to correct another deficiency in women's coverage.
Breast cancer strikes one in nine women in this nation. Although other diseases have seen tremendous medical breakthroughs, the most common treatment for breast cancer is a mastectomy - a physically and psychologically devastating procedure.
Yet despite the trauma that this procedure can cause, many doctors and hospitals are being forced to send their patients …