December 3rd, 2009
02:23 PM ET
11 months ago

Senate casts first health care votes

Washington (CNN) – In its first votes on amendments to the massive health care bill, the Senate approved a Democratic amendment Thursday to provide women with low cost mammograms and other preventative tests and rejected a Republican counter amendment that sought to prevent government boards from having influence over which screening tests for women would be covered.

The amendments were prompted by the recent uproar over a controversial recommendation by a government task force that some women should not receive annual mammograms to detect breast cancer. Democrats wanted to assure women that health care reform won't lead to a rationing of such care and Republicans wanted to make the point that it will.

The votes came on the fourth day of debate on health care reform,, which has been dominated by partisan rhetoric and gridlock. A second series of votes is planned Thursday afternoon on another hot-button issue: whether almost $500 billion in cuts to Medicare in the Democratic bill will mean a reduction of care for the nation's seniors.

A motion by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain would force the bill back into committee to be stripped of its Medicare cuts. Last year's GOP presidential nominee and other Republicans argue it's impossible to cut that much spending from the Medicare program without hurting seniors.


A counter motion by Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet states that nothing in the Democrats' bill reduces benefits for Medicare recipients. Democrats argue their bill will improve the overall U.S. health care system and therefore strengthen Medicare.

The Democratic amendment on preventative screenings was authored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski. In addition to mammograms, the Democrat from Maryland said it is expected to cover a range of women's health screenings, including those for cervical cancer, post-partum depression, heart disease and diabetes. It passed 61 to 39. Three Republicans voted for the amendment and 2 Democrats voted against it.

The Republican counter amendment was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK. It failed 41-59. One Democrat crossed lines and voted with the Republicans.

Another amendment that could be debated later Thursday is a measure that would ban government funding for abortions, similar to the strict prohibition adopted by the House. Offered by conservative Sen. Ben Nelson, a conservative Democrat from Nebraska, the issue divides Democrats and threatens their ability to get the 60 votes needed to pass a final bill.


Filed under: Health care • John McCain • Senate
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Johny

    You Americans as specialy Goper's follower un edujacted don't under stand that you all will benifits from OBAMA's healthreform. I think McCain don't know what is talking about, he is nothing but flip flooper> Mr. McCain go home and relax you are too old to understand what 21 century foxs are looking for...............You Gopers come out with any good plan you have wher you can help American people not Insurance Co..........

    December 3, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. krazykoreankyle

    Choose TWLOHA as your charity and vote!!!

    December 3, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. do what is right

    This Health Bill is getting worse....The liberal senators are stating that AARP members are for this....THEY ARE NOT...Look at the amount of people who have quit AARP...Yours truly I have asked to be dropped from all insurance and not to be sent any of their liberal newsletters in the future. They still send them, tho. I just toss them in the garbage......Many people are locked into their (AARP) supplementary health insurance and cannot quit...But, if you have the car or home insurance and if it is at all possible for you.......Fight for what is right and drop those plans. There are others that will cover us. I have found them...Don't let a few liberal AARP CEO's, who will benefit from this governmental health care, to state what we believe. Cancel your membership with AARP and demand your money back......Do what is right.

    December 3, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. CHANGE.COM

    Religion and medicine should be separated. Abortion should never divide us to the extent of killing a health-care bill that potentially could help millions of children, men and women gain access to medicine. Someone tell me: Does killing by starvation, hunger, war, and disease not equate to murder? These Pharisees called Republicans continue to abstruct, obfuscate, and intimidate people to believe that they are the supreme holders of truth, whatever that is.

    December 3, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Christian Values

    Get this bill passed. Ignore McCain, he has never had a good idea in his life, nor has any republican in history, with the exception of Lincoln.

    Republicans are not good for this country. The problems this nation faces are a direct result of Republican incompetence. We must ignore them from now on, and vote them out of office, for the good of america and for the safety of children and soldiers.

    December 3, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. CHANGE.COM

    Mccain is a pitiful old fool, like all the do-nothing party of "no" Republicans. The bill cuts nothing from medical services provided to seniors. Most of that is administrative cuts. This will force hospitals to digitize their medical records, which is more efficient than paper trails. Yes, McCain, kill the bill because no matter what happens, you can rely on your Senate insurance provided to you for life, courtesy of the American people!

    December 3, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Republicans are hypocrites

    John McCain trying save Medicare!? Wouldn't that make him a Socialist? I'll bet he's wearing red underwear right under the noses of all you Conservatives!

    December 3, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Don Gregory

    It's going to be interesting to see how the finalized health care bill handles the other elephant in the room: i.e., unnecessary office visits, medicine, tests, etc. Can they get that out of "nightmare land?"

    December 3, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Ryan

    As lots of people have stated, the medicare cuts are administrative cuts. This bill will provide considerably better care for the elderly, since it will stop physicians from refusing medicare patients (all you doom-sayers apparently don't know that most private physicians don't even accept medicare anymore.) Also, the cut in cancer screening for women was recommended by the American Medical Association, since most women who don't belong to a risk category end up going in for many needless screenings. As a health care professional, I stand by this bill and pray sincerely that it will pass. The private sector gridlock on health care has to stop.

    December 3, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. Stacie

    Senator McCain's love for medicare is so interesting to me since he voted to cut $158.1 billion from medicare over a six year period. Don't believe me...look it up: H.C.R. 178, Vote #156, 5/23/1996; H.C.R. 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96

    The guy is a joke! Thank God he's not the president.

    December 3, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "But when people who can't afford services stop using them, the healthcare industry will feel the pinch and find innovative ways to reduce the costs."

    So wrong it's frightening that this kind of thinking goes on in the minds of conservatives. When people can't afford services stop using them, they die. When people stop using services because they're dead, the universally overburdened hospitals and hospital staff will feel relief. If it came to it, hospital staff would be cut back and we would lose jobs. Health care is a necessity...just like gas, electricity, phone, etc. There is absolutely no logical reason it shouldn't be treated as any public utility....unless, of course, you consider a for-profit health care industry with insurance companies pretty much reaping all of the profits is "logical."

    December 3, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Micki

    We can't pay for health insurance reform by cutting funding to Medicare -– this is not debatable!!!! Too many things wrong with all of the bills being proposed. Flush all of them and either start over and do it right or just forget it. What is being proposed is worse than what we have now -- nothing!!

    December 3, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "But when people who can't afford services stop using them, the healthcare industry will feel the pinch and find innovative ways to reduce the costs."

    "The goal of managed care is to manage costs; not provide the best healthcare. By managing costs, YOU will be managed."

    Hey genius, which would you rather:

    Managing costs with an eye to making a profit OR

    Managing costs in a non-profit environment.

    Which one of those do you think is going on right now? Which one do you think incentivizes cutting services? Which one do you think leaves more money left over for services? Newsflash: WE are already being "managed." It's about finding a way to do it in a manner that "manages" more people more effectively and efficaciously.

    December 3, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "The goal of managed care is to manage costs; not provide the best healthcare. By managing costs, YOU will be managed."

    Hey genius, which would you rather:

    Managing costs with an eye to making a profit OR

    Managing costs in a non-profit environment.

    Which one of those do you think is going on right now? Which one do you think incentivizes cutting services? Which one do you think leaves more money left over for services? Newsflash: WE are already being "managed." It's about finding a way to do it in a manner that "manages" more people more effectively and efficaciously.

    December 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Ancient Texan

    Since Medicare was passed and everyone had a percentage of money taken from their paychecks every week, and since Seniors pay a monthly payment for the Medicare coverage, and since Medicare is the only game in town, Yes seniors have to stay on it and stand up for continued coverage. It is typical of government run organizations,, it is broke and unsustainable, but it's all we have.

    December 3, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. Adalbert

    The rich idiots and the scared old people think that our HC bill is joke. It may be a joke to them , it is a life line to most of us.

    December 3, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. Keith in Austin

    The AARP and AMA have sold their souls to the Devil (the Democrat party)

    December 3, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
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