Reid swings through Douglas County |

Reid swings through Douglas County

by Merrie Leininger

Although Congress is on summer break, Sen. Harry Reid is keeping busy.

Reid, D-Nevada, was in Gardnerville Thursday to attend an AARP picnic after talking to cosmetology students and senior citizens in Carson City.

He discussed several topics in an interview with The Record-Courier.

n Mud-slinging. Reid said he is upset the campaign between Rep. John Ensign, R-Nevada and himself turned so dirty.

“I’m sorry my friend John Ensign decided to become so negative – distorting my face on the commercials and just being so negative instead of focusing on the positive work he has done,” he said.

Reid has been a senator for 12 years and before that was a representative for four years.

If he wins, Reid will be the senior Nevada Democrat.

Reid said he has lots of work to do in the five weeks Congress is in session before the election in November.

Reid is currently working on two pieces of legislation: a contraceptive coverage bill and a patient abuse prevention bill.

The contraceptive coverage bill requires health insurance plans to cover Federal Drug Administration-approved prescription contraceptive drugs or devices if the plan provides benefits for other prescription drugs.

The plan also prohibits companies from excluding or restricting benefits for outpatient contraceptive services if the plan provides coverage for other outpatient services.

Only federal employees now are insured coverage, but Reid said in the upcoming session, the bill will be tagged onto another and it now has 35 sponsors.

“We made a lot of progress this last session and what really gave it emphasis is Viagra,” Reid said.

With the mad rush to get Viagra coverage by health insurance companies, the lack of contraceptive coverage for women became highlighted he said.

“Women pay 68 percent more out-of-pocket health care costs than men,” Reid said. “No one seemed very concerned they were generally treated very badly.”

Reid said 3.6 million unintended pregnancies happen in the United States every year, many of them resulting in abortions – abortions which health insurance often covers.

“Every place I go people are appreciative of this bill,” he said. “I want to save families a lot of grief.”

Another bill designed to save families a lot of grief is the patient abuse prevention bill.

It will establish a national background check system for workers of the elderly and disabled.

“It will also expand the training of people who work in rest homes,” Reid said. “A lot of people are dying because they are not getting adequate nutrition.”

He said the bill originated with a Nevada law that lacked a national registry to check the background of employees who may have had an out-of-state criminal record.

“In the past when abuse occurred, the person would just be fired and no criminal charges would be filed,” he said. “They would just move to another state and go work somewhere else.”

Employers will be able to just log onto the registry through the Internet to check the background of a health care worker.

“We have gotten a lot of support from the industry,” Reid said. “It should be passed by September.”

n Seniors legislation. Reid said he is working on other bills that will help senior citizens.

He wants to try to bring back the Older American’s Act that pays for many programs such as senior nutrition programs, the senior companion and the music therapy programs.

He is also working to change the Medicaid law that requires a cut-off of rehabilitation payments after $1,500.

“That number is arbitrary and doesn’t work for everybody,” Reid said. “This legislation would kick that cap off.”

n Wait and see. Things may be different for all Democrats in Washington once President Clinton testifies before the grand jury on Aug. 17.

Reid said he thinks people and the media have jumped to conclusions about the Clinton/Lewinsky issue.

“These are very serious allegations and I think we need to wait until the facts come out,” he said. “I think far too much as been talked about in the newspapers when it should only be talked about in the courtroom.”

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