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OMNIBUS WOMEN’s HEALTH LEGISLATION

Executive Summary

OMNIBUS WOMEN's HEALTH LEGISLATION unveiled by the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues Sept. 14 sets out a broad agenda aimed at improving health care research and services for women. Introduced in the House by caucus co-chairs Schroeder (D- Colo.) and Snowe (R-Maine) with Rep. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and 33 cosponsors, the Women's Health Equity Act of 1993 (HR 3075) is a consolidation of 32 separate research funding and service proposals, 20 of which have already been introduced. The research provisions of the package include proposals to increase NIH funding for breast cancer research by $300 mil. and establish a National Breast Cancer Commission (HR 615); increase NIH research on women and AIDS (HR 2394); increase basic and clinical research on ovarian cancer (HR 2810); authorize $20 mil. in additional funding for NIH for lupus research (HR 2420); authorize $62 mil. to expand and coordinate federal research on osteoporosis (HR 1844); and authorize NIH research on RU 486 and other antiprogestins for all potential uses (HR 437/S 222). Other research provisions of the package would require drug companies to study the interaction of new drugs with hormones prior to FDA approval (HR 2694) and to include women in clinical studies and examine gender differences in Phase III trials (HR 2695); and call for the establishment of five regional centers as model programs for research, education and health care delivery for midlife women (HR 2842). The only provisions of the package that have seen legislative action to date are the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act Reauthorization (HR 2202/S 1310), introduced by Rep. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mikulski (D-Md.), and the Women's Preventive Health Amendments (HR 2158), introduced by Reps. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Snowe. HR 2202/S 1310 reauthorizes a program that provides grants to states for mammograms and Pap smears for low-income women. HR 2158 would establish three demonstration projects expanding the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention program to include other preventive health services. In committee, the House added HR 2158 to HR 2202 as an amendment, and the full House passed the provisions in that form. Similar language was approved by the Senate Labor Committee and is pending before the full Senate. The omnibus bill does not yet have a total cost estimate. The bulk of the funds will be required for the research provisions, the breast and cervical cancer mortality prevention act, and the International Population Stabilization and Reproductive Health Act (HR 2477/S 1096). The latter measure seeks to establish and strengthen programs for the stabilization of world population through expanded family planning programs and reproductive choice.
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