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HELP Panel Approves Three Health Measures

To stem the tide of preventable injuries and deaths among the elderly and underserved communities, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved three bills in its meeting Thursday. Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered substitute amendments for all three bills.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (S. 624), would renew a program designed to provide free and low-cost screenings of breast and cervical cancer for uninsured women.

“Through early diagnosis and treatment, these tests have the potential to prevent nearly all deaths from cervical cancer and more than 30 percent of breast cancer deaths,” said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

In a similar move on Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 1132, a bill designed to reauthorize funds to support breast and cervical cancer. The funding for the program was increased from $202 million to $275 million over the next five years.

The committee also approved the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act of 2007 (S. 657), which would reauthorize programs to prevent deaths from traumatic injuries.

The third bill considered, the Keeping Seniors Safe from Falls Act of 2007 (S. 845), was reported out as well. The bill would expand research on fall prevention and treatment for America’s senior citizens.

One in every three people age 65 and older falls each year. Studies show that in 2002 alone more than 13,000 people died as a result of fall-related injuries.

The act authorizes the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop effective public education and prevention strategies in a national initiative to reduce falls among older adults.

The trauma and cancer bills were passed by a unanimous consent voice vote. The falls legislation was passed by majority voice vote.

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