The Task Force's new mammogram standards were an attempt to circumvent that obvious problem by pretending that women under age 50 don't need mammograms in the first place. That obviation strategy was also attempted by another ally of the Obama administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which recently recommended that screening for cervical cancer begin at age 21 rather than within three years of first sexual intercourse. This despite the fact that cervical cancer comes from human papillomavirus (HPV), which is extraordinarily common among teenagers.
ACOG lists as its first legislative priority the "goal of achieving universal coverage to comprehensive, high-quality care for everyone in the United States." The problem is that, as ACOG's cervical cancer screening standards show, universal health care and quality comprehensive coverage cannot coexist.
President Obama has said repeatedly that the nationalization of health care will not compromise quality because drawbacks in treatment will be offset by increases in preventive care. In fact, in his pitch to the joint session of Congress back in September, Obama stated that "there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives." The economic claim was a dubious one -- the Congressional Budget Office explained that increases in preventive care actually increased costs over time.
But Obama was right about one thing: screening does save lives. Unfortunately, his government plan will compromise screening just as readily as it would treatment. And his allies inside and outside government are already softening the ground for the assault on preventive medicine.
When my aunt died, her youngest child, Anna, was 3 years old. Anna grew up without her mother. How many other children will grow up without their mothers because the government refuses the care that my aunt went without?
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