FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty
The Obama administration now says that federal advisory board's recommendation on mammograms is not government policy and has caused "a great deal of confusion." No kidding.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was out sweeping up today–saying mammograms remain an important life-saving tool in fighting breast cancer.. and that women should talk to their doctors and make the decision that is best for them.
But the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force said Monday that women in their forties shouldn't get routine mammograms. They claimed this was meant to reduce over-treatment... and that many women experience false positives, anxiety and unnecessary biopsies.
They said mammograms saved one life for every 1,900 women screened. Turns out this panel is made up of sixteen health care experts... none of them are oncologists.
What the hell is going on? We have a federal advisory panel making recommendations about breast cancer and there is no one on the panel who is an oncologist?
And think about this: While the Preventative Services Task Force is independent, the Department of Health and Human Services Web site calls the panel's recommendations, "the gold standard."
And insurance companies look to the panel for guidance on which preventive care practices they should cover.
Is it becoming clear now what's going on here?
Cancer experts and the American Cancer Society immediately rejected these new guidelines… with some critics asking if insurance companies would use these new recommendations to justify denying mammogram coverage for women in their forties.
Republicans are pouncing on this – saying it's a sign of rationing health care.
One doctor told the New York Times: "My patients tell me they can live with a little anxiety and distress, but they can't live with a little cancer."
SO HERE's MY QUESTION FOR YOU: What do you think is behind new recommendations for mammograms?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Don in Muskegon, Michigan
Looks like the insurance lobby is at it again! Trying to get a position before any health care reform is passed. Just think: another pre-existing condition. Do we as citizens of this wonderful country ever catch a break against big bucks?
Eric in Houston
I wish I knew, Jack. Great stuff though for the death panel crowd, since it certainly could be made to look like a trial balloon for the rationing of a common, but costly, procedure. If so, it was pretty ham-handed. No actual experts on the expert panel? Does that sound like Washington, I ask you.
More than likely, it's an adjustment to Obama's new health care plan. I expect that next E.R. care for heart attacks will be optional.
Bree in New York
Not to sound paranoid, but is there anyone asking whether members of that panel are hoping to derail health care reform? Trying not to look like Mr. Beck, with my aluminum foil hat at the ready, but the timing of their recommendation seems suspicious. Might I ask how many health insurance professionals are on this board, compared to the ZERO oncologists?
Jack, I have an ex-girlfriend who is in the hospital right now, dying from brain cancer that spread from undiagnosed breast cancer while on Medicaid. In February 2007, she had an emergency double mastectomy. She had begged for almost 2 years for a mammogram and didn’t receive it until she produced visible tangible evidence of the cancer. Then it was too late.
These recommendations will solve one thing: those with insurance will now know how it feels to be like those without (those who cannot afford preventative care).
What boobs are in charge of the health of my boobs?