Health Care Issues: Public Option, Abortion, Medicare Cuts

"Seniors do not want senators fooling with Medicare. They want us to fix it, to strengthen it, to preserve it for future generations, not raid it like a giant piggy bank in order to create some entirely new government program," Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today. "Yesterday's vote was particularly distressing for the nearly 11 million seniors on Medicare Advantage."

The House bill also pays for the $1.2 trillion costs over 10 years with more than $400 billion in cuts in Medicare spending over the same period.

Women's Health Coverage

Democrats on Thursday passed, by a vote of 61-39 and some bipartisan support, a proposal by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., that would require insurers to cover and provide women access to preventive screenings like mammograms in the basic health care overhaul plans. It also mandates that all health plans cover women's preventive care and screenings with no copayments. The proposal is expected to add nearly $1 billion to the overall cost and was rejected by two Democrats.

Reid today hailed Mikulski's measure.

"Senator Mikulski of Maryland -- who for decades has been a champion for women's health -- made it better by making sure women can get the mammograms, check-ups and other preventive tests they need to stay healthy, and get them at no cost," Reid said on the floor of the Senate today.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, offered an alternative saying the government should not determine health guidelines based on the recommendations of the government-appointed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force -- which last month made the controversial recommendation that women didn't require mammograms that frequently and women between 50 to 74 years of age should have it every other year instead of annually. The amendment, which would also have barred abortion from being considered as a preventive service, was rejected.

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf contributed to this report.

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