Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NV-03: Joe Heck Reality Check... On Women's Health Care

On last night's "Face to face", Jon Ralston brought in "the wise men" to read between the lines on the latest R-J poll numbers. At about 3:20 in on the video below, they start discussing NV-03:

So Ryan Erwin says everything in this ad is a lie?

Even though Heck actually voted against requiring insurance companies to cover the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine?

Here's what Heck actually said in 2008:

Heck, of Henderson, told a 2007 state Senate committee that he had “philosophical” objections to mandating coverage of the vaccine because there were preventable risk factors, including multiple sex partners, that sometimes lead to HPV transmission and then cancer.

Here’s what Heck said at the 2007 committee meeting: “I do have a bit of a philosophical issue with this vaccine in that this type of cancer is, ah, three of the major types of risk factors are behavioral for this type of cancer.”

He compared it to a vaccine for lung cancer.

“I wonder if it opens the door that, should some great day we develop a vaccine for the type of cancer that’s caused by smoking, are we then going to mandate that everybody who smokes needs to have an insurance-paid or government-paid vaccine?”

And here's how Nevada NOW, who pushed to get this requirement passed, responded to Heck's claims.

Leading American public health organizations that include the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend wide-spread vaccination, as do all public health agencies in Europe. Nevada NOW is baffled why Senator Joe Heck, as a doctor, would vote against a bill in the state legislature that brings such health benefits to Nevada’s women at no public cost. SB 409 does not mandate administration of the vaccine (as 22 other states plus the District of Columbia are considering or have passed). Four other states, in addition to Nevada, have passed bills like SB 409, which (as passed in 2007 and signed by Governor Gibbons) requires health insurance companies in Nevada to cover the vaccine for those who opt to have it administered to their daughters. Moreover, Prior to SB409, the vaccine was already covered by Medicaid (through the federally funded Vaccines for Children program), by Nevada Check-Up, and by most insurance plans in the state, so there was really no savings for any entity, public or private, in opposing the bill. There was, however, a great risk to the public health.

To explain himself, Heck compares the vast majority of women American women who will contract genital HPV to a smoker who contracts lung cancer. It is important to note here that conservative studies estimate one in five women nationally will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and that Nevada women are statistically more likely to be subject to coerced sex than the national average. We also understand from common sense that a woman cannot control the past or even the present partners of her husband, boyfriend or lover, so that a woman need not engage in “risky” behavior to be at risk for contracting HPV or cervical cancer. For these reasons, most in the Religious Right, including most conservative organizations in Nevada, have dropped their previously stalwart opposition to the vaccine. Senator Heck stands to the right of almost everyone in his opposition to making the vaccine more widely available.

If we were to draw Senator Heck’s analogy with smoking and lung cancer to the logical conclusion, all women should abstain from having sex. My advice to Senator Heck is to consult Mrs. Heck before he is tempted to make more misleading comparisons.

The logic is simple here. Prevention is often the best medicine, and it's certainly the most cost effective. So if Joe Heck was really concerned about this HPV virus and its cost, wouldn't he compare and contrast the cost of a Gardisil shot (about $360) with the cost of treating cervical cancer, which becomes much more likely after contracting the HPV virus (let's just say we now move into the many thousands of $$$$).

And what is Heck's "philosophical objection", actually? That women have sex? So does this mean he also wants men not to have sex? After all, men also spread the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer.

Joe Heck may be a doctor, but it seems that's not getting in his way in terms of disregarding the facts on women's health care.

And by the way, Dina Titus introduced that bill in 2007. And Dina Titus has worked on health care issues for many years. And Dina Titus worked on the details of health care reform this year, including ways to improve women's care. Let's just say Dina is no slouch when it comes to health care issues, and especially women's health.

Does Heck really want to add fuel to this fire?

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