The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) yesterday announced its recommendation that women between the age of 40 and 50 years old, whose only risk factor is age, skip that yearly mammogram. While at first glance this may simply seem like a bad idea coming out of a flawed study, a closer look reveals a more ominous rationale behind the decision: cost savings.
This may be the first big hint of what nationalized health care will do: sacrifice care standards — and lives — to save money.
The USPSTF is a government controlled comparative-effectiveness research task force. They changed the “guidelines” for breast cancer screenings for women, making recommendations based only on saving money. Should the Democrats’ government takeover of health care become law, these won’t be new guidelines — they’ll be the new government mandates used to ration health care.
Welcome to the future.
I spoke yesterday with Rep. Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-La.) about his concerns over these puzzling new guidelines. Boustany was a heart surgeon before his election to Congress.
“I have a particular concern in this case about who was involved in this task force,” Boustany said. “These are internal medicine doctors, pediatricians, family practitioners as well as OB-GYNs and nurses. There are no surgeons or oncologists who deal directly with breast cancer or even radiologists. … I’ve seen far too many young women develop late-stage breast cancer because they didn’t have adequate screening.”
“Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women,” Boustany said. “The USPSTF admits that screening below the recommended age of 50 still saves lives. As federally funded comparative-effective research such as this becomes more widely available, patient safeguards are needed to ensure that government-run programs don’t misuse this data to deprive individuals of medically-necessary care due to cost. Medical decisions need to be made by patients and their doctors. Today’s announcement highlights the need to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship for women and all Americans.”
A study compiling statistics from the American Cancer Society show that one out of every 229 women aged 30 will be diagnosed with cancer over the next 10 years, and the number increases drastically to one out of every 68 by age 40. That’s an increase of over 340%.
Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society reiterated his organizations’ recommendations for yearly mammograms for all women age 40 and over, right after the USPSTF “guidelines” were released.
“The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40,” Brawley said. “Our experts make this recommendation having reviewed virtually all the same data reviewed by the USPSTF, but also additional data that the USPSTF did not consider.”
The main difference in the assessments, of course, being the American Cancer Society’s driving concern is the survival of the patient, regardless of age.
“The USPSTF says that screening 1,339 women in their 50s to save one life makes screening worthwhile in that age group,” Brawley said. “Yet USPSTF also says screening 1,904 women ages 40 to 49 in order to save one life is not worthwhile. … With its new recommendations, the USPSTF is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives; just not enough of them.”
When the health of each individual American becomes a government controlled federal budget item, this is the sort of tortured logic that comes from a government task force whose directive is to cut the budget. Screenings for breast cancer are not worth the cost if they don’t save X number of lives according to some government bureaucrat notion of the value of a life.
Reid Set to Unveil Senate Health Care Bill Today
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is posed to unveil his version of government-run health care today to at least the Senate Democratic caucus this afternoon. Reid has voiced his desire for the bill to include the government takeover, which causes some Democrats re-election heartburn.
Democratic senators including Reid who claim to be pro-life are indicating they’ll abandon the tough language passed by the House that would bar federal funding of abortion.
The bill needs 60 votes to move to a motion to proceed to overcome a filibuster and move to the Senate floor for debate.
There are reportedly four Democrat senators who actually want to be able to read the bill and see the CBO cost analysis before voting to proceed: Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
In the big picture, what is usually considered a perfunctory procedural vote, will have major ramifications as this would be the last opportunity to make sure certain elements that would not have 60 votes on their own, like the pro-life language or the public government takeover option, could be included in the bill.
Holder on the Hot Seat Today
Attorney General Eric Holder today will testify this morning before an oversight hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Holder is expected to face some tough questions about his political decision to bring some of the 9/11 terrorists to New York for trial in a federal court, while leaving others to face military tribunals that have been moving through the process for over 18 months.
Representatives of some 9/11 families will be in attendance to object to this Obama administration decision.
Also likely to be addressed at the hearing are major warning signs that were overlooked that led to the Ft. Hood terrorist shooting.
HUMAN EVENTS will be there and will bring you a full report.
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