LegNet October 2008
Beyond the Bailout
LegNet October 16, 2008
Beyond the Bailout
The Congressional bailout of the American financial system has dominated the news cycle for the last few weeks, but several other issues of importance to GFWC members were also up for debate in the waning days of the second session of the 110th Congress.
THE BREAST CANCER PATIENT PROTECTION ACT OF 2007 received an overwhelmingly favorable vote in the U.S. House of Representatives (421-2) on September 23. This bill would have required health insurance companies to provide coverage for a minimum hospital stay for mastectomies, lumpectomies, and lymph node dissection for the treatment of breast cancer and coverage for secondary consultations. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate did not bring a vote on its version of the bill to the floor before time expired. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut has committed to bringing the bill up again in the 111th Congress.
A key piece of legislation requiring private health insurers to offer mental health benefits equal in cost and scope to traditional medical benefits passed the U.S. Congress after nearly a decade of debate. THE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY ACT was championed by retiring Representative Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico and the father and son pair of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. The bill’s passage came down to the wire and was, at the last minute, included as part of the financial bailout package passed October 1 in the Senate and October 3 in the House. President George Bush signed the bill into law on the same day that it was cleared by the Congress.
»Take a moment to express your thanks to the elected officials who spearheaded this very important bill. Senator Domenici may be reached by calling 202/224-6621; Senator Kennedy at 202/ 224-4543; Representative Ramstad at 202/225-2871; and Representative Kennedy at 202/225-4911.
THE LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT received a final hearing in Congress, but the required floor action in the U.S. Senate did not happen before members adjourned. This bill is named after GFWC member Lilly Ledbetter, a former District 2 Director from Jacksonville, Ala. It would have re-instituted an employee’s right to file an employment pay discrimination claim based on gender after more than 180 days of the first instance of discrimination, a time restriction that was imposed in a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The GFWC Board of Directors, during their annual meeting in Washington D.C. in September, spent a day on Capitol Hill advocating on behalf of Lilly and her bill. Despite a favorable vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and a simple majority supporting the bill in the U.S. Senate, an up-and-down floor vote was never held. Senate leadership has indicated they will very likely bring the bill up again in January.
»Take action now by calling both the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and ask that they allow debate and a fair vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada at 202/224-3542 and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky at 202/224-2541.