Mammograms and Government Health Care

If you’ve been listening to the news recently, you probably heard of the controversy regarding the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force relating to mammograms. The gist of the recommendations was to state that women in their 40s no longer need to have annual mammograms. So far, so good.

But the story behind the story is how the mammogram recommendation impacts the drive for nationalized health care. After all, it is one thing for a government panel to “recommend” certain guidelines, but is there any doubt that if the government controls and pays for your care that these will no longer be “guidelines,” but actual limits. In other words, women won’t be able to get mammograms in their 40s without, perhaps, proving to a panel of government bureaucrats that their family histories demand earlier mammograms. But do you really trust government bureaucrats with these decisions?

Steve Pearlstein, a liberal columnist with the Washington Post, understands the situation. And as an advocate for government-run health care wrote: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did a marvelous job this week of undermining the move toward evidence-based medicine with her hasty and cowardly disavowal of a recommendation from her department’s own task force that women under 50 are probably better off not getting routine annual mammograms.”

While I take no position on the mammography issue, I’d rather have women and their doctors — constrained by real-world financial concerns as opposed to the current, third-party system — make their own decisions on mammography. Unfortunately, Congress and the President are going the wrong way.