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House Committee Approves Several Women’s, Children’s Health-Related Measures

On September 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved, by voice vote, the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2007 (S. 1760), the Meth [Methamphetamine] Free Families and Communities Act (H.R. 6901), Heart Disease Education, Analysis Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act (H.R. 1014), and the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act (H.R. 758).

The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2007

Sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act was approved by the Senate on April 30 (see The Source, 5/2/08).

S. 1760 would reauthorize the Healthy Start Initiative through FY2013. The initiative awards grants to public and private organizations that aim to reduce infant mortality, the number of low birth weight babies, and the number of preterm births. The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to take into consideration grant applicants’ facilitation of “a community-based approach to the delivery of services, and a comprehensive approach to women’s health care to improve perinatal outcomes.” The reauthorization also would include new programs to provide prenatal services in the U.S. border regions.

Meth Free Families and Communities Act

Sponsored by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR), H.R. 6901 would amend existing law (42 U.S.C. 290bb-1) to require that the director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment provide grants to, or enter into cooperative agreements with, public and nonprofit organizations to provide inpatient and outpatient treatment services for pregnant and postpartum women, including for methamphetamine use.

The treatment programs would be required to provide health and dental services. Such services would be targeted at low-income women and “pregnant and parenting women in health disparity populations.” The bill defines health disparity populations as “a population in which there is a significant disparity in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population.”  Rural areas and areas determined by the director to have high rates of methamphetamine addiction would receive priority consideration. The bill would provide $20 million for FY2009, $21 million for FY2010, $22.05 million for FY2011, $23.153 million for FY2012, and $24.31 million for FY2013 for such grants. 

Speaking in support of her bill, Rep. Hooley said, “Congresswoman [Barbara] Cubin [R-WY] and I worked extensively on this bill; I’m sorry she’s not here today. We worked with our prevention and treatment experts in our respective states and on the national level. The provisions in this bill reflect what those professionals have told us are the greatest needs in their field. [The bill] is an important first step to show that Congress is committed to a comprehensive fight against the epidemic that is not just limited to law enforcement. I urge my colleagues to join Congresswoman Cubin and me in supporting this legislation so we can protect our communities from this dangerous drug.”

Heart Disease Education, Analysis Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act

The House Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the HEART for Women Act on May 1, 2007 (see The Source, 5/4/07).

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), the bill’s sponsor, said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to see H.R. 1014, the HEART for Women Act, on the docket for today…We have 236 bipartisan cosponsors, including the majority of members on this committee. [The bill] has also been a priority of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition and the Women’s Caucus both of which I am proud to co-chair. The HEART for Women Act addresses the existing gaps in the way we approach cardiovascular disease in women as well as minorities…Most people simply don’t know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, which is why an educational campaign is a critical part of this bill.” She continued, “Since 2000, the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] WISEWOMAN [the Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation] program has been a highly successful screening tool for reaching low-income and at-risk women. We have seen the number of sites increase to 20 states, but with this bill, we can see that increase to further states and reach greater numbers of women. Early detection leads to early treatment and these are the keys to survival.”

Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act on May 21 (see The Source, 5/23/08).

In a statement, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), said, “I am so thrilled that the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act was approved by the [House] Energy and Commerce Committee today. The last thing any patient undergoing a mastectomy should have to deal with is fighting with her insurance company about a hospital stay. That is what this bill is all about—it says that when it comes to mastectomies and lumpectomies, adequate recovery time in the hospital should not be negotiable. And today, we are one step closer to a vote on this bill by the entire U.S. House of Representatives.”

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