Obama admin starts its health care “cost cutting” measures

Posted by: ST on November 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

Via the WaPo:

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.

In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit.

Coming amid a highly charged national debate over health-care reform and simmering suspicions about the possibility of rationing medical services, the recommendations immediately became enveloped in controversy.

“We’re not saying women shouldn’t get screened. Screening does saves lives,” said Diana B. Petitti, vice chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which released the recommendations Monday in a paper being published in Tuesday’s Annals of Internal Medicine. “But we are recommending against routine screening. There are important and serious negatives or harms that need to be considered carefully.”

Several patient advocacy groups and many breast cancer experts welcomed the new guidelines, saying they represent a growing recognition that more testing, exams and treatment are not always beneficial and, in fact, can harm patients. 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.

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 new guidelines also recommend against teaching women to do regular self-exams and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend that doctors do the exams or to continue routine mammograms beyond age 74.

Polipundit reax:

But it’s not about rationing! It’s about saving women from temporary anxiety over false positives. And if other women have to die of breast cancer to prevent that anxiety, well, that’s a small price to pay.


On the bright side, the more women who die in their 40’s and 50’s, the less underfunded Social Security and Medicare will be.

Change we can believe in!

And so it begins.

Hat tip to Tom Maguire, where a commenter quipped:

It shows how the government run health care will cut costs. “Experts” will periodically issue new findings…”Hold off on that Mammogram”, “Prenatal care Overrated”, “Broken Bones, No Problem: How I Learned To Live With My Arm Askew”, ” Jaundiced and Lovin It”.

Sounds about right.

Update: Ed Morrissey points out that just a few short months ago “experts” were sounding off alarm bells about the ‘slight annual decrease’ being reported among women getting mammograms in their 40s, and that the same “independent panel” now pushing for women to stop having them done in their 40s still at that time pushed for mammograms every 1 to 2 years for women at that age. What’s changed? Hmmmm….

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  • 16 Responses to “Obama admin starts its health care “cost cutting” measures”


    1. Anthony says:

      “Independent government-appointed board.” Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction in terms? :-?

    2. Sonny says:

      “Independent government-appointed board” is one of many death panels under universal health care. You may now disregard the advice and go to you medical provider. Under universal health care you will not have that right.

    3. Lockandload says:

      We have the highest rate of Breast Cancer survival in the world. Welcome to socialized medicine. Take a look over at Bunkerville wordpress for the stats.

    4. Scared in MO says:

      Won’t the Ins. Cos. use this to deny coverage for preventive care? Isn’t that where a lot of the “cost savings” was supposed to come from to pay for Obamacare? If they don’t have to pay, its a savings, I guess!

    5. Carlos says:

      Yeah, Anthony, it almost fits up there with “I feel your pain” (Billy Bub) and the forever-loved oxymoron “military intelligence”.

      Although, seeing the results of last year’s election, one might wonder if Billy Bub’s is still believed by some of those whose lives the government helped ruin by keeping them perpetually begging for more.

    6. Gene says:

      It is pretty obvious who stands to gain from this new research in the field of finding cancer before it gets too large to be effectively treated.:-w

    7. Tracy says:

      My 79-year-old mother is a cardio-pulminary patient under the current healthcare system. She gets pneumonia and bronchitus every year..sometimes more than once. We’ve asked for tests to be run to determine if there is anything preventative to be done to alleviate these constant trips to the ER and hospital stays but have told they are not covered by Medicare and her supplemental insurance plan. All the current system does is give her antibiotic round after antibiotic round. They are essentially waiting for her to die. In the meantime, they are building her immunity to antibiotic treatment for when she really will need “just” a round of antibiotics and also, strengthening the viruses that have learned to evolve over the years from antibiotic overuse. IE: staph and influenza
      So tell me people, instead of closing our minds to change of any kind because it’s coming from a political party or a skin-colored president that we don’t like, what should we do?
      The current system is broken and needs fixed. If we all, politicians and voters alike, put the energy into fixing the problem that’s put into fighting about it–it would be fixed!

    8. Rorschach says:

      Here is a list of the people on the board. It might be useful to check their political contributions (plan on working on that tonight.)

      The members are: Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, Chair (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, Colorado); Diana B. Petitti, MD, MPH, Vice-Chair (Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona); Thomas G. DeWitt, MD (Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio); Allen J. Dietrich, MD (Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire); Kimberly D. Gregory, MD, MPH (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California); David Grossman, MD (Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington); George Isham, MD, MS (HealthPartners, Minneapolis, Minnesota); Michael L. LeFevre, MD, MSPH (University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri); Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York); Lucy N. Marion, PhD, RN (School of Nursing, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia); Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN (Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Phoenix, Arizona); Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas); Judith K. Ockene, PhD (University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts); George F. Sawaya, MD (University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California); J. Sanford Schwartz, MD (University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the Wharton School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); and Timothy Wilt, MD, MPH (University of Minnesota Department of Medicine and Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota)

    9. Carlos says:

      Tracy, what you see is a medical problem (that essentially starts with government regulations – i.e., Medicare) and have decided the whole system needs to be thrown out and restarted. Kinda like saying, “My finger has a sliver so let’s cut off my entire upper torso.”

      If you and Congress would look at the genesis of the problem and then attack the problem not the symptom, we conservatives would probably feel a lot more comfortable with changes, but the problem is several more bureaucracies stepping in and not solving one problem and creating several new ones. There is not one sentence in the proposed Democrat bills that attacks any of the several problems, yet some people are dumb enough to think that any change, no matter how drastic, is better than we have now.

      And that’s simply naive, childish and terribly dangerous.

    10. Marcy says:

      How very incisive of you, Tracy, to read all our minds and determine that the only reason we object to this monstrosity of a bill is the color of Obama’s skin. And I’m sure your Mother will be ever so much better off if Obamacare gets passed and millions of dollars are taken away from Medicare, insuring that even fewer doctors than now will be taking medicare patients. That should see to it she doesn’t get any more of those pesky antibiotics that seem to be keeping her alive.

    11. Rorschach says:

      Well, I’ve gone through the list and while I’ve been unable to find data on most of them, I did find that three of them did make a combined total of $1950.00 to political organizations, all of them democrat. One of them (Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD) donated from TWO different addresses. One wonders if perhaps she voted in both places too…

    12. Carlos says:

      Rorschach, if one address was in NYC and the other some place in Jersey, that would fit with local politics. Better yet, have you checked to see if she donated from Chicago? That would fit even better, with zero chance of being prosecuted for voting multiple times.

      I want to be clear here that I’m not accusing the good doctor of voting multiple times in violation of state and federal law. It’s just intriguing that it was brought up on someone who obviously wishes to be part of the “most transparent administration evuh!”

    13. Jo says:

      Obama’s America: Early death for everyone; rationed care for all. Shrug it off and deal with it.

      Tracy, I hope you wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late.