More than one million women call the Silver State home. Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked on their behalf to improve women's health care, strengthen their legal and civil protections, and fight for equal opportunities in the classroom and in the workplace. I understand that every issue before Congress impacts women and I will continue to fight for the priorities that matter to women across Nevada and the country.Fighting for Better Health Care
I am pleased to have worked to pass legislation that will lower costs, create greater choices, and improve the quality of health care for Nevada’s families. With the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama, insurance companies are no longer able to deny children health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or drop coverage if a patient becomes sick. The new law also means that parents can keep children on their health plans up to age 26. When fully implemented, health reform will prohibit insurers from discriminating against women or against consumers based on health status. This historic health reform strengthens Medicare for our seniors, closes the “donut hole,” and ensures that women always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if they lose their jobs, switch jobs, move, or become sick.
For more information on benefits of the Affordable Care Act, please click here.
Improving Access to Contraception
I also championed legislation, which is now law, that allows hundreds of safety-net providers to access affordable prescription birth control. Without this law, skyrocketing drug prices would have made it difficult for the thousands of Nevada women who rely on safety net providers to access the family planning services they need to help prevent unintended pregnancies. This common-sense legislation did not cost a dime.
In addition, I have worked to make it easier for States to extend Medicaid coverage for family planning services and supplies to women who should be entitled to Medicaid funded prenatal, labor, delivery and postpartum care if they become pregnant. I also authored a bipartisan law that requires contraceptive coverage for federal employees.
Eliminating Health Disparities
Breast cancer is one such disease that takes a devastating toll on Nevada's women, with an estimated 1,770 women diagnosed in our state this year. I am proud to have authored the Breast Cancer Environmental Research Act, which is now law. This legislation boosted research and established a national strategy to study the role of the environment in the development of breast cancer. The resulting discoveries could be critical to improving our knowledge of this complex illness, which could lead to new treatments and perhaps, one day, a cure.
At the same time, I will continue to support federally-funded programs that ensure access to lifesaving screenings and treatment, such as Nevada Women's Health Connection. Also known as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, this program has been tremendously successful across the country. This program has provided 10.1 million screening examinations in all 50 states, with more than 51,100 breast cancers and 2,900 cervical cancers detected as a result. Unfortunately, because these women are uninsured, they often do not have the resources to get treatment for their cancer. To help solve this problem, I cosponsored the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act to allow women who are diagnosed under the screening program to receive needed care. As a result, Nevada women diagnosed through Women's Health Connection are eligible for Medicaid coverage until their treatment and follow-up visits are completed.
Making Work Pay
Additionally, I was also an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would revise and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and further target gender pay discrepancies in the workplace. I attempted to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act to a vote before the full Senate, but was disappointed when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle chose to filibuster the motion and block the Senate from considering this important legislation. Although a majority of Senators voted in favor of the motion, it failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome the filibuster. Despite the setback, you can be assured that I will continue to stand firmly on the side of equality for every working woman. I will continue to stand with middle-class women working to keep their families afloat during difficult economic times, and with young women pursuing a college education, hoping to get a good-paying job when they graduate. No woman working to support herself or her family should be paid less than her male counterparts.
In the 110th Congress, I also proudly helped increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, giving millions of women a pay raise in 2007. The legislation raised minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 an hour over two years, which directly or indirectly benefits 13 million hardworking Americans. As too many Nevadans know all too well, the cost of housing, food, gasoline, and other expenses has increased since the minimum wage was last adjusted. This issue is particularly significant for women, as they comprise nearly two-thirds of workers who make less than the current federal minimum wage. Many are often the sole support for their families.
Protecting Women at Home and Abroad
Another issue that I am concerned about is female genital mutilation (FGM), a cruel procedure that has been internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. In 1996, I authored legislation that became law that makes the practice of FGM illegal in the United States. I am the sponsor of legislation known as the “Girls’ Protection Act of 2011” that strengthens the 1996 law by banning the act of transporting girls overseas to be subjected to FGM.
I also have been a strong supporter of funding the United Nations Population Fund, an international organization that provides life-saving reproductive health services, works to prevent female genital mutilation, fights the spread of HIV/AIDS, and helps mothers safely undergo childbirth.
Ending Domestic Violence
Protecting Title IX
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