ObamaCare and Mammography – the Real ‘War on Women?’

Update – November 3, 2012 – The board responsible for the 2009 decision to deny mammograms to women between 40 and 49 years old has continued its ‘war on women’ by classifying various screening tests and procedures as not covered by ObamaCare.  The USPSTF would now deny women access to chlamydia testing, HPV testing, cervical cancer screening( for women over 65), and digital mammography screening.  Denial of digital mammography screening shows how cost-driven ObamaCare is since it is better at detecting aggressive cancers and produces significantly lower doses of x-rays than regular film mammograms thus reducing the risk of causing cancer with the screening.  The only reason to deny it is cost.  Read more about these denials of access in this New York Post article: ObamaCare v. Women

I have posted this info before, but in a very long entry located here. This version focuses on the June 26, 2012 pre-release of a Mayo Clinic study showing how a bad decision by an ObamaCare panel has lowered mammography testing rates for women between 40 and 49 years of age.

In November, 2009, an obscure panel of experts, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) classified mammography for women between 40 and 49 years of age as a “Class C” procedure.  Unfortunately, this panel was empowered by Sec. 2713 of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) to determine what would and would not be covered by insurers.  The “Class C” rating meant that women between 40 and 49 years of age would not have insurance coverage for this procedure.

This decision was roundly criticized by all reputable medical authorities connected to this issue, including American College of Radiology (ACR), American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and, recently, the American Medical Association (AMA).  Basically, these groups all pointed out that there has been a decrease in mortality of 40% since regular mammography screening has been implemented.

The issue was so disturbing to legislators who wanted to support ObamaCare but were astounded by this decision, that they hastily passed an amendment to provide adequate breast cancer screening for all women, including those in the disputed age group.  Unfortunately, this has not deterred supporters of centrally-planned health care from staunchly defending the indefensible USPSTF decision.  Their arguments that  mammography is not cost-effective, that the USPSTF was correct in their determination (despite the fact that not a single oncologist sat on the panel making this decision), and that we need to spend less in this area anyway, are all aimed at covering up the fact that this Government panel was wrong – DEAD wrong!

Now, as we feared,  we have some hard evidence that these establishment “experts” have succeeded in confusing doctors and patients, and may have done serious damage to Public Health.  The Mayo Clinic, suspecting that all the confusion caused by the USPSTF decision and subsequent defense of that decision by “experts” may have depressed mammography rates among women between 40 and 49, decided to review the data.

Sure enough, the preliminary results of the Mayo study, released on June 26, 2012, indicate that mammography rates have indeed declined by about 6% in this age group subsequent to the USPSTF decision.  This amounts to about 54,000 fewer mammograms per year in this age group despite the ObamaCare amendment that was supposed to ensure their access to this procedure, and despite the DHHS quiet reversion to the previous (2002) USPSTF guidelines,  which allow coverage of mammograms for women over 40.   An undetermined number of these currently untested women will die unneccessarily as a result of the confusion caused by the USPSTF decision.  You can read an article about this study at HealthDay –  http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=666143

What has happened is that basically doctors are confused by the 2009  USPSTF decision, the USPSTF refusal to retract, and now the defense of that decision by various  “experts.”   Doctors are under a mistaken impression that USPSTF actually knows something about breast cancer, and they are also confused into thinking that perhaps they will be breaking some rule, or will not receive compensation if they prescribe this procedure for women between 40 and 49 years of age.

This is really unfortunate, and hopefully the recent ACR, ACOG and AMA definitive statements in support of annual mammograms, will “shore up” these doctors to where they are able to represent their patients’ best interests.

In the meantime, we should all learn a valuable lesson from this as to how impersonal, and basically dishonest, health care will become when it is run by bureaucrats who are primarily interested in withholding resources that might be spent on “Patient A,” so that those resources can be better used on the much more worthy “Patient B,” as determined by their infallible methodology.  Infallible, until someone takes a hard look at it to see it for the sham that it is.

This is the real “War on Women” being waged in doctor’s offices every day by ObamaCare and it’s flunkies.  It makes Ms. Fluke’s highly choreographed charges regarding contraception costs look trivial because the consequences of not getting a mammogram may well be death.

Tell your friends about these hypocrites and how we need to get rid of them for our own health and safety.

The Sceptic


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