Tuesday, November 17, 2009

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force practicing rationed care with guideline changes in mammograms?

A report by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force established new guidelines on Monday for breast cancer examinations. The new guidelines are, which are for the general population and not patients deemed high risk for breast cancer, are (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33973665/ns/health-womens_health/):

  • Most women in their 40s should not routinely get mammograms.
  • Women 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every other year until they turn 75, after which the risks and benefits are unknown. (The task force's previous guidelines had no upper limit and called for exams every year or two.)
  • The value of breast exams by doctors is unknown. And breast self-exams are of no value.

The confusion behind the new guidelines has already created a stir. Even though many in the cancer society are easing back the promotion of self-exams, they are still advocating that mammograms be performed for women earlier than the new guidelines. Dr. Otis Brawley, the society chief medical officer, said in a statement, "This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over." The World Health Organization recommends mammograms are performed every two years after a woman reaches 50 years of age while Britain looks to perform mammograms every three years.

Ask yourself this, why is the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force looking to change the age to start breast cancer detection? One only need to take a look at the current health care reform debate going on in Washington D.C. Part of the reform bill passed by the House; H.R. 3962 http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf. An aspect of the bill that was labeled as "Death Panels" by the Right and said not to exist by the Left is indeed what is going on. See Sec. 223. Health Benefits Advisory Committee on page 111 of the H.R. 3962 bill. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is just the precursor to the Health Benefits Advisory Committee. The reason why the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force stated for moving the mammograms from age 40 to age 50 is because the research performed showed that screening 1.300 women in their 50's proved to save one life while it took 1,900 women in their 40's to save the same life.

While the change in guidelines only has immediate impact for those women on Medicare and Medicaid it does lay lend insight into what Americans can expect from the Health Benefits Advisory Committee if health care reform is passed in its current form. President Obama claims, repeatedly, that if one likes their insurance they will be able to keep it and that no government bureaucrat will get between the patient and their doctor; really? Isn't the change in guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force doing just that? Granted it will, to start with, affect those on Medicare and Medicaid. Americans need to wake up and see what health care reform is really all about; more government control over your lives.

As I have stated several times, health care reform can be achieved without a 2,000 page bill or raising taxes or increasing spending. So, why do our leaders in Congress feel that adding a public option will increase choice and competition to the point that it will achieve the goal of lowering cost and premiums? I still have not seen an answer to this question – on any stage! One argument the Right has been making is that the current health care reform being proposed by the Progressives will lead to rationed care. I ask you, isn't that what the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force is doing with changing the guidelines of mammograms?

Women of America see the change guidelines for mammograms for what it is; a government bureaucrat coming between you and your doctor. Write your member in Congress and the president to voice your opinion on the change in guidelines. For the rest of Americans realize this is just the start if health care reform passes as the government will start decided when and how often other preventive services will be performed; essentially rationing care.