U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that women under 50 should stop having regularly scheduled mammograms and that older women should restrict them to only one every year. This has caused outrage among outside experts.
The task force recommended restricting mammograms despite the fact that Diana B. Petitti, vice chairman of the task force, admitted that the screening saves lives. The reason given is “Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.”
Outside experts are incensed at the recommendations.
“But the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and other experts condemned the change, saying the benefits of routine mammography have been clearly demonstrated and play a key role in reducing the number of mastectomies and the death toll from one of the most common cancers.
“‘Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it,’ said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. ‘It’s crazy — unethical, really.'”
The real reason for the recommendation, though, may be just a matter of cost.
According to Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, just six months ago the same federal task force sounded the alarm over a slight decline of mammograms by women in their forties and warned that women would be putting their lives at risk is they did not get screened regularly. What has changed in six months? Ed Morrissey thinks he has an answer.
“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.”
Morrissey also points out that there is not one oncologist on the federal task force which is all of the sudden recommending that women cut back on mammograms.
When former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin suggested that the Obama version of health care reform would set up what she called “death panels” that would ration health care based on cost, even at the expense of human lives, she was widely derided by supporters of health care reform as being an alarmist. And yet, even though health care reform has not officially passed, a federal task force has set itself up as a “death panel” if one is to believe outside experts at the American Cancer Society.
Look for more such recommendations that tests and procedures that Americans have gotten used to having access to are all of a sudden “unnecessary” if health care reform passes.
Sources: Breast exam guidelines now call for less testing, Rob Stein, Washington Post, November 17th, 2009
Feds to women in their 40s: Skip the mammogram, Ed Morrissey, Hot Air, November 17th, 2009