Senate will consider amended cervical cancer vaccine bill |

Senate will consider amended cervical cancer vaccine bill

Associated Press

Most insurance providers would have to cover the cost of a cervical cancer vaccine for young women, under a bill amended Wednesday by the Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, agreed to remove a provision in SB409 requiring self-insured health plans, including those provided by many local government entities, to offer the vaccine.

While that would erase a concern about an unfunded mandate to local government created by the provision, Titus said she’s not happy that some local governments were opposed to offering the vaccine.

“The local governments who oppose doing this do cover prostate cancer screenings, which are much more expensive than the cervical cancer vaccinations,” Titus said Tuesday. “I’m going to shame them. I hope they look real bad because they should.”

Sabra Smith-Newby, a lobbyist for Clark County, said the county’s opposition came only because the members of the self-funded plan decide what should be covered.

“To mandate coverage goes against our self-governed plan,” she said. “Our members would make that determination.”

The bill passed the Senate 12-9 Friday, but Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, asked for it to be reconsidered because of the unfunded mandate to local governments. On a party line 11-10 vote Monday, the bill was put in legislative limbo.

On Wednesday, Titus said she received letters from Clark County and other local governments saying they had no objection to the amended bill. The Senate passed Titus’ amendment on a voice vote.

Now, the Senate must pass the amended measure by Tuesday in order to meet a legislative deadline.

Several Republican lawmakers had opposed the original bill, saying that government mandates raise the cost of insurance, ultimately making more people unable to afford insurance. Also, most health insurance plans in Nevada already include the vaccine, they said.

“We all talk about how high the rates are for insurance,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. “We have more than 40 mandates on insurance in our state, and we wonder why our premiums are high. This is exactly the reason why.”

Titus said she understood the philosophical objection to mandates, but argued that mandating a $350 vaccination would save insurance companies money by avoiding the much higher costs of treating cervical cancer.

“I believe that we should make this a mandate,” said Titus. “This might be one of the things that could be cut, and I don’t think we should risk it. I understand your concern about the profits for the insurance companies. I think women’s’ health is more important than insurance company profits.”