Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health Care Rationing Begins

Six months ago the Department of Health and Human Service’s “best practice” panel on prevention, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, warned that women in their 40s could be risking their lives if they didn’t have annual mammograms.

However, now they say

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.

What brought about this change of mind?

Ed Morrissey explains,

What changed in six months to change the USPSTF from a sky-is-falling hysteric on a 1% decline in testing to Emily Litella? If the administration gets its way, the government will be paying for a lot more of these exams when ObamaCare passes. That will put a serious strain on resources, especially since many of the providers will look to avoid dealing with government-managed care and its poor compensation rates.

The motivation for HHS will be to cut costs, not to save lives. The sudden reversal in six months of the USPSTF, especially after it made such a stink over a relatively minor decline in screening, certainly makes it appear that they have other priorities than life-saving in mind here.

One final thought. Barack Obama predicated his ObamaCare vision on the notion that increased prevention would save costs. Suddenly, his administration is for decreased screening and prevention. Could that have anything to do with the CBO scoring on screening? And what does that say about how government will make decisions once they control the compensation and care in the US?

The United States vastly outpaces the rest of the world in Breast Cancer survival for one simple reason….screening.

Type into your web browser and it will show a photo of the White House lit by pink floodlights, to highlight the Susan G Komen For the Cure. Ironic. (The Komen organization recommends screenings remain as they were before the change, by the way.)

Check out this link to the Mayo Clinic health guidelines to mammograms:

What Mayo Clinic recommends
At Mayo Clinic, the current practice is to continue to recommend an annual screening mammogram beginning at the age of 40, which aligns with the ACS recommendation.

At Mayo Clinic, a three-tiered approach is used which includes:

  • Breast self-exam to identify breast abnormalities and allow a woman to become familiar with her breasts so that she can tell her doctor about any changes
  • Clinical breast exam performed by a health care provider and recommended annually beginning at age 40
  • Screening mammography beginning at age 40

Screening mammograms have detected abnormalities in women in their 40s. These women have then had biopsies and learned they had invasive breast cancer. There are many stories about younger women who have found cancer early as a result of screening. And it’s important to remember that most women who get breast cancer have no family history or other risk factors for the disease.

And so the Obama admin starts its health care “cost cutting” measures.


Bob Qat November 18, 2009 at 4:03 PM  

I'm not qualified to examine the medical questions, but I know about government compensation worsening the quality of medical products.

Under Medicare part B, the government keeps reducing compensation for durable medical equipment. The direct and predictable consequence was less innovation, poorer fits (since one size had to be made to fit all), and declining durability and quality.

Way to go, Mr Obama! You'll ruin us all!

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