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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Obamacare: Rationing Threat To Your Mammograms
By Heritage Foundation @ 1:29 PM :: 4950 Views :: National News, Ethics

Last week, the United States Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines recommending that women in their 40s no longer have annual mammograms and that women ages 50 to 74 have them only every other year, instead of annually. The recommendations were highly controversial, and by week’s end most health insurers and the federal Medicare program said they would ignore the panel’s recommendation and continue covering annual mammograms. This is as it should be: the federal government collects information and makes recommendations, and Americans are then free to consult their health care providers, ignoring the government if they so choose. The problem is that Obamacare would forever change this relationship.

Both the House and Senate versions of Obamacare create detailed new federal regulations that micromanage all health insurance decisions. Specifically, Section 2713 of the Senate Health Bill would give the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force the force of law by requiring all health insurance plans to provide coverage (with no patient co-pays) for “items or services that have in effect a rating of “A” or “B” [recommended] in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force.”

Conversely, under Obamacare, last week’s Task Force decision to give annual mammograms a “C” rating (not recommended) will henceforth be viewed by insurers and employers as a justification for discontinuing coverage. This move to give the evidence-based medicine determinations of health experts the force of law is not incidental to Obamacare: this cost control rationing is the very heart of Obamacare’s promise to control health care costs. Trying to convince wayward moderates that Obamacare would control health care costs, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag wrote in the Washington Post last Friday:

An independent Medicare commission … will ensure that reforming the health-care system is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that implements the most recent progress in medical science with the goal of improving care and lowering costs.

In other words, when the Obamacare health experts conclude that the “medical science” dictates that your mammograms must be cut to meet “the goal of … lowering costs,” then you'll be out of luck.

The left is now desperately claiming that by raising this mammogram rationing issue, conservatives are politicizing health care. For example, Obamacare supporter Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told ABC News that Republicans have “Politicized Breast Cancer.” But the left has it exactly backward: it is Obamacare that is guaranteed to politicize every single medical decision between you and your doctor. When the government becomes responsible for providing everyone’s health care, everyone’s health care becomes everyone else’s problem. President Barack Obama once pitched his version of health care as “Everybody in. Nobody out.” In reality, this will mean “Everybody in your health care business. Nobody out.”

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QUICK HITS

  • Explaining the Heritage Foundation’s overcriminalization project, former U.S. Attorney General and Heritage Foundation fellow Ed Meese tells the New York Times that the “liberal ideas of extending the power of the state” are to blame for an out-of-control criminal justice system.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, 10% of adults younger than 35 have moved back in with their parents because of the recession.
  • According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thanks to the recession, 34.5% of young African American men are unemployed.
  • According to Rasmussen Reports, just 38% of voters now favor Obamacare.
  • The drug industry group PhRMA is now running television ads calling on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to support Obamacare.

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