A government panel's recommendation would turn back the clock in the fight against breast cancer and cast a troubling shadow over the prospect of government-run health care. That was Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's, R-W.Va., message today in light of suggestions from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that call for a drastic scaling back of breast cancer prevention methods for women under 50.
"This recommendation amounts to a government panel putting a price on the life of our citizens," said Capito. "When we know that early detection saves lives, I'm troubled by the prospect of a government entity now suggesting that it's not worth doing. This should be a decision for patients and doctors, not bureaucrats and unelected panelists."
Recounting her family's personal story with breast cancer, the congresswoman called early detection a life-saver that shouldn't be rationed based on government recommendations.
"My mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in her early 50s at a time when there was almost no focus on early detection or prevention," said the congresswoman.
"If she'd had access to the care given to younger women today, I still wonder if she could have beaten the cancer and might still be with us today. We can't bring her back, but we can stand up and stop a government panel that included no oncologists or radiologists from pushing us back in time."
Capito is the sponsor of the EARLY Act, legislation to promote early breast cancer detection efforts among younger women. The bill has well over 300 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The American Cancer Society reports that the five year survival rate for breast cancer is as high as 98 percent if detected early.
What Others Are Saying...
WSJ: A Breast Cancer Preview: "This episode is an all-too-instructive preview of the coming political decisions about cost-control and medical treatment that are at the heart of ObamaCare.... The effects of this new breast cancer cost-consciousness are likely to be large. Medicare generally adopts the panel's recommendations when it makes coverage decisions for seniors, and its judgments also play a large role in the private insurance markets... every Democratic version of ObamaCare makes this task force an arbiter of the benefits that private insurers will be required to cover as they are converted into government contractors. What are now merely recommendations will become de facto rules, and under national health care these kinds of cost analyses will inevitably become more common as government decides where finite tax dollars are allowed to go. (Wall Street Journal Editorial, November 19, 2009.)
US News: Mammogram Recommendations Could Reverse Years of Progress: "No one wants to be the one woman-the one mom, sister, daughter, or friend-whose death was preventable. Who wants to take that chance? Two years is a long time to wait and wonder. I bet most women will pay for a yearly mammogram out of pocket just for the peace of mind. Many paid out of pocket a few years back when the new improved Pap smears came out and insurance wouldn't cover the difference. I know I did. The task force also recommended that doctors stop teaching patients how to do a self-exam for breast cancer on a regular basis. What? We all know women who have survived breast cancer in their 40s who either found a lump by self-exam or had a bad mammogram. So if you're cutting back on mammograms and telling women to stop the self-exams, what other way is there to find breast cancer?" (US News and World Report, Mary Kate Cary, November 19, 2009.)