Former Red Cross chief: Feds’ new mammography policy is “a shocking thing”

posted at 10:19 pm on November 18, 2009 by Allahpundit

The White House website already has a “reality check” up about the mammogram uproar, but from what I can tell, the reality there is “selective.” For one thing, they lay the controversy at the feet of Fox News (of course) when in fact it was WaPo’s story that generated the most heat online. For another thing, while the White House strains to minimize the task force’s role under ObamaCare, WaPo notes that “under health-care reform legislation pending in Congress, the conclusions of the 16-member task force would set standards for what preventive services insurance plans would be required to cover at little or no cost.”

Beyond that, though, even if the panel’s role is small now, why would anyone trust the feds not to expand it over time as rationing became more urgent to limit costs? Everyone understands that the program will end up costing vastly more than the early projections indicate; there’s no reason to think that inertia towards growth wouldn’t also apply to agency responsibilities. (On the contrary, the former begets the latter.) Republican women on the Hill are using the mammography buzz to warn of it:

“This is how rationing begins. This is the little toe in the edge of the water,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “This is when you start getting a bureaucrat between you and your physician. This is what we have warned about.”…

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said today that she feared health insurance companies would change their policies. Furthermore, she said, she feared that such studies would be used to set policy in the national health insurance exchange that would be set up and run by HHS if Democrats are able to pass their health care bill.

“The rules of what will be required to go into the exchange have yet to be written,” Schmidt pointed out. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated about 30 million Americans could receive their coverage through the exchange.

Here’s the clip. I described Healy the way I did in the headline because that’s how most people know her, but her medical credentials are rock solid. Click the image to watch.

healy


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They want Republicans to come out in favor of yearly mammograms for everyone so that they can justify a more generous public option than the other nations with public options would even think of paying for.

They will trot out a bunch of these in the coming days and weeks. They got it covered the other way too incase conservatives aren’t for more mammograms then that will mean they want to kill off all the women folk. The best thing to do is just point out how if Americans want that superior British health care they have been whining for then they should get what they wish for.

We need to take a second look at death panels for government option recipients.

Buddahpundit on November 19, 2009 at 1:48 AM

This federal advisory group might not be a Death Panel, but they have a certain “deathiness” about them…

Haiku Guy on November 19, 2009 at 5:51 AM

The fact that they are recommending against self-examinations says legions in of itself.

rob verdi on November 19, 2009 at 5:58 AM

I think all of these panels and commissions are worth looking into. I have heard in the House bill there are multiples of these types of groups to be formed. Will the public really want their health care decisions to go back and forth between political appointees at every election? These unelected people will be another way to make promises to people to garner votes. This is a disaster.

Cindy Munford on November 19, 2009 at 6:19 AM

I am 57 and I have never had a mammogram and I am not sure I will get one either. I think that people have been led to believe for years that early detection will always save them. It won’t. Tony Snow died of the same cancer my father died of in 1980. They caught Tony’s early, and what good did it do him?

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

Get ready folks, if the Health Scam passes, this is only a beginning. These are Changes, Liberals can believe in and the rest of us will have to live die with it.

yoda on November 19, 2009 at 6:38 AM

This isn’t about the procedure…this is about scaring Doctors in to punting the decision to the government. They will get their asses sued.

tomas on November 19, 2009 at 7:29 AM

I am 57 and I have never had a mammogram and I am not sure I will get one either. I think that people have been led to believe for years that early detection will always save them. It won’t. Tony Snow died of the same cancer my father died of in 1980. They caught Tony’s early, and what good did it do him?

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

So because you have made a personal choice, others should be forced to conform to your reasoning? What other point could you be making other than that?

fossten on November 19, 2009 at 7:40 AM

For one thing, they lay the controversy at the feet of Fox News (of course) when in fact it was WaPo’s story that generated the most heat online.

Fox gets to more people, and the Whitehouse obviously wants this news to get out faster, but why?…It’s only infuriating more of the regular folks. They’re slitting their own throats on a daily basis while looking like morons…and it’s accelerating. I don’t see the ultimate payoff, other than political suicide.

Nalea on November 19, 2009 at 7:50 AM

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

In answer to your statements:

God helps those who help themselves. (We’re not supposed to give up on life or treat it frivolously)

When it’s your time, it’s your time. (Surrender your leaving time to God.)

For those who don’t believe in God…you’re on your own.

Nalea on November 19, 2009 at 7:55 AM

under health-care reform legislation pending in Congress, the conclusions of the 16-member task force would set standards for what preventive services insurance plans would be required to cover at little or no cost.”

See, Sarah Palin is so frakking dumb. It isn’t a death panel, it’s a death task force! Gawd, are they all so stupid in Alaska?!

/sarc.

rbj on November 19, 2009 at 8:00 AM

I used to be a benefits administator and, believe you me, health insurance companies will eventually hang their hats on anything “official” to reduce benefits. I remember through the years seeing “annual” exams being changed to every two or three years if you were in a certain age category. We also had problems with older women being told mammograms were only paid for every two years. The companies will not listen to what the American Cancer society suggests if a government organization says otherwise. This is the thing…your doctor can say he’ll send you for your mammogram yearly, but if it’s not paid for women will not get it if they don’t have the money.

deedledee on November 19, 2009 at 8:13 AM

This is the thing…your doctor can say he’ll send you for your mammogram yearly, but if it’s not paid for women will not get it if they don’t have the money.

deedledee on November 19, 2009 at 8:13 AM

This constant “yeah but the insurance companies do it too” argument is apples and oranges.

Insurance companies can choose to pay or not pay for a procedures. They can’t stop your from getting that procedure and paying yourself. And most of the time if you pay cash on the spot the price is 1/2 what it is if insurance covers it. I’ve been there done that a few times where the cost to pay out of pocket was only a little more than my co-insurance would have been.

Under ObamaCare there will be no choice. Either the govt pays for it and you get it, or you don’t get it. Once the govt controls ACCESS to health care, they dictate what care you can and cannot receive as well as what they will and will not pay for.

Think of it this way. Right now you have the USPS and FedEx and you have “delivery insurance”. Your want to send an overnight package using FedEx. It costs $50. Your insurance says no, too expensive we won’t cover it. You say fine, I still need to get that package there by 8:00am so you pay the $50 yourself.

In ObamaCare FedEx is gone, all you have left is USPS which is free. You have to get the package out tomorrow morning. Govt says nope, too expensive you can’t have it. But since FedEx is no longer in business, you’re stuck sending via regular USP and your package might get to its destinatiuon in 5 or 6 days, if ever.

angryed on November 19, 2009 at 8:27 AM

I am 57 and I have never had a mammogram and I am not sure I will get one either. I think that people have been led to believe for years that early detection will always save them. It won’t. Tony Snow died of the same cancer my father died of in 1980. They caught Tony’s early, and what good did it do him?

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

Two completely different types of cancer. Unfortunately, you can’t detect potential colon issues by self exam. I believe statistics have shown that when breat cancer is discovered early, chances are much better that the treatment will work. In many instances, if caught early enough, chemo may not be necessary. I’ve had mammograms since my early 30s when a lump was discovered; my doctor was cautious enough to order an ultrasound and needle biopsy to be safe. Fortunately, the lump is noncancerous….but I’m aware, I do my self exams and my doctor checks me every year because even with noncancerous lumps, the potential is there.

For this alleged expert panel to make this determination, despite the statistcs, is quite pathetic.

atlgal on November 19, 2009 at 8:35 AM

I described Healy the way I did in the headline because that’s how most people know her, but her medical credentials are rock solid.

In 1985 Healy left Washington and moved to Cleveland where she became Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Research Institute and also practiced cardiology. In addition to building major new programs in molecular biology, neuroscience, and cancer biology,…

The right words from the right person.

Here’s the lead from the LA Times article in yesterday’s paper:

Some Republicans say the new recommendations are an example of ‘rationing’ that would take place under Obama’s plan to save money by basing treatment on experts’ advice.

According to the article, this isn’t the first time the panel has made this type of finding:

But the panel helped fuel an uprising among radiologists and the medical imaging industry by concluding last year that there was insufficient evidence to recommend the use of computed tomography, or CT, machines to screen for colon cancer. That decision helped convince Medicare not to cover the procedure as an alternative to colonoscopy.

The Times article paints the issue as politicians and greedy doctors and companies versus sound medicine.

That was early in the day — the first edition.

By the end of the day, the LA Times was edging toward That mammogram fracas: The American College of Radiology says, Take it back!

Of course, there was a Times blogger, Adam Tschorn, who had an arch style of commenting on the fracas on Tuesday:

…the shirts bear the words: “I Am the One in 1900″ at the top and the words “My life was saved by preventative breast cancer screening.”

Other versions personalize the odds with “My Friend Is the 1 in 1900,” “My Mother Is the 1 in 1900,” “My Sister Is the 1 in 1900,” “My Daughter Is the 1 in 1900″ and “My Wife Is the 1 in 1900.”

All proceeds from the $14.99 T-shirts benefit the American Cancer Society, which quite publicly continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40.

What do you think the odds are they’ll sell a heck of a lot better than the “I Followed the New Screening Guidelines and All I Got Was This Lousy Breast Cancer” shirts?

unclesmrgol on November 19, 2009 at 8:46 AM

Hey there’s only so much health care money to go around. So what if more American women die because the government decides not to recommend payments for “unnecessary” mammograms? It frees up money to provide more taxpayer-funded health care to millions of illegal aliens. That’s what really matters here. Get with the program, folks. This is what “social justice” is all about.

AZCoyote on November 19, 2009 at 8:49 AM

I am 57 and I have never had a mammogram and I am not sure I will get one either. I think that people have been led to believe for years that early detection will always save them. It won’t. Tony Snow died of the same cancer my father died of in 1980. They caught Tony’s early, and what good did it do him?

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

Your odds are 1 in 1900, according to the doctors. Of course, if your family has no history of cancer, then those odds are lower, but if your family does (as your father’s case indicates), the odds are much higher that you will get a cancer, since cancers are genetically dispositioned.

Many colon cancers start out as polyps and excising the polyps can arrest the cancer. Here’s an interesting article indicating the probability of colon cancer survival based on the stage in which it is detected and where it is detected.

Here’s information from same source about breast cancer survival rates. Note that this chart says the obvious — the earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the probability of survival:

* Stage 0: 100%
* Stage I:100%
* Stage IIA: 92%
* Stage IIB:81%
* Stage IIIA:67%
* Stage IIIB:54%
* Stage IV:20%

Of course, you are your own doctor, in the end — just make sure you are the best you can buy.

unclesmrgol on November 19, 2009 at 8:58 AM

deedledee:

I remember through the years seeing “annual” exams being changed to every two or three years if you were in a certain age category.

Do you remember in 2002 when mammograms were only recommended for people over 50? All they are doing now is reverting to the previous, correct, decision that we had for decades before 2002.

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Do you remember in 2002 when mammograms were only recommended for people over 50? All they are doing now is reverting to the previous, correct, decision that we had for decades before 2002.

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 9:20 AM

I do.

AnninCA on November 19, 2009 at 9:47 AM

I’ll need to find the actual guidelines, but what they *ought* to be, is individualized screening programs, chosen by a woman and her doctor, based on the woman’s risk factors.

Me? My odds are extremely low, since there is no history of cancer in my family going back at least three generations. So an every other year mammogram will probably be more than enough.

My daughters are going to want more thorough screenings starting earlier in life since one of their paternal aunts had breast cancer (though not till she was over 50, and she had been a heavy smoker most of her life, so still not incredibly high risk).

One screening plan does NOT fit all patients.

Why they want to do away with the self-exam, and even the doctor’s manual exam at the yearly check up I cannot fathom.

LibraryGryffon on November 19, 2009 at 10:08 AM

That is expensive for 6 months. We are never going to have it all.

AnninCA on November 19, 2009 at 1:11 AM

I believe it was the late George Carlin who said: “You can never have it all; where would you put it?”

To answer your specific point: yes, that is expensive. So who would pay for such a thing? The rich. So, despite its cost, you woul a market for the product. Once a market is established then you can generate competition that would reduce the cost of the drug or improve its effectiveness as different companies try to win more customers. A drug that is at first prohibitively expensive eventually drops in cost and increases in quality. You see that happening from cars to PC’s to cell phones to tennis shoes in a free market system. There is no reason for in not to happen in health care.

In a government-controlled health care system, such drugs are never developed because the government does not see a profit motive to invest in them. So while the government might claim that it’s saving money by refusing to invest in such things, in the long run it loses money because it will engage in the efficiencies and cost savings that result from true competition and innovation.

PackerBronco on November 19, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Once a market is established then you can generate competition that would reduce the cost of the drug or improve its effectiveness as different companies try to win more customers.

Good point. That does happen. I don’t think a public option necessarily destroys free enterprise, though, unless it’s single-payer. Then, of course, it does by definition.

But then, I was for a simple major medical/hospitalization public option plan. Not this monstrosity that got into preventive care and all this hullabaloo.

AnninCA on November 19, 2009 at 10:39 AM

LibraryGryffon:

Why they want to do away with the self-exam, and even the doctor’s manual exam at the yearly check up I cannot fathom.

It’s because self-exams have been shown repeatedly to be ineffective. Even when the mammography guidelines were changed in 2002 from 50 to 40, they said that “It’s unclear if doing self breast exams or having a doctor do them in addition to mammography saves lives.”

PackerBronco:

then you can generate competition

The Sorafenib patent does not expire until Jan 12, 2020. Until then, there is no competition, and prices will go up.

In a government-controlled health care system, such drugs are never developed

Glaxo SmithKline is based in the UK and is the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world. There is also Novartis, Bayer, Takeda, etc

BTW, the survival advantage by taking Sorafenib is 3 months, not 6 months. (But that equlas another $15 k for the pharma executives!)

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Glaxo SmithKline is based in the UK and is the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world. There is also Novartis, Bayer, Takeda, etc

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 10:48 AM

And they reason they are still in business is from demand by American consumers of their drugs. Once ObamaCare cuts off access, those companies, along with Pfizer and the rest of America’s pharma industry goes buh-bye.

angryed on November 19, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Beck should have Dr. Healy on more often. Humble beginnings, driven,tough, smart, compassionate & does not suffer fools gladly.

BHO Jonestown on November 19, 2009 at 12:08 PM

I am 57 and I have never had a mammogram and I am not sure I will get one either. I think that people have been led to believe for years that early detection will always save them. It won’t. Tony Snow died of the same cancer my father died of in 1980. They caught Tony’s early, and what good did it do him?

Terrye on November 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

That’s an idiotic statement. Tell that to my mother, who’s cancer was detected on a mammogram and is now cancer-free.
Die if you wish. Dont tell others to do the same.

Shambhala on November 19, 2009 at 12:29 PM

angryed:

“And they reason they are still in business is from demand by American consumers of their drugs.”

It is true that the American market is very big for pharma companies. This is because only America allows the pharma companies to rape the consumer with their ridiculous pricing to the extent that we do. I am not sure this is something to be proud of.

Once ObamaCare cuts off access, those companies, along with Pfizer and the rest of America’s pharma industry goes buh-bye

The reality is the opposite. This health care plan is 100% pro-pharma and pro-insurance companies. Why do you think the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association is completely behind the plan? Because they want to put themselves out of business? Not really. I am a pharma chemist, and personally, I will benefit greatly from this plan, as will pharma companies and insurance companies in general. It’s so funny that people on the right call this socialism. It’s the exact opposite. But reality is usually the opposite of what people here think it is.

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM

What people don’t want is to have to discuss every medical procedure in the political arena.

AnninCA on November 19, 2009 at 2:04 PM

AnninCA:
The best thing for everyone would be single payer health care. It will never happen. Not as long as pharma and insurance companies own Washington.

dave742 on November 19, 2009 at 2:26 PM

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