Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shooting For Political Points

In today's Spokesman Review, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other Republican congresswomen try to score points by associating a study conducted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force with the "Democratic health care reform."

Illustrating the continuing political fallout from controversial new recommendations on breast cancer screening, GOP congresswomen condemned a government-funded study Wednesday and suggested it was a preview of what to expect from Democratic health care reform.

Led by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., six Republican congresswomen told reporters that the guidelines, published Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, send the wrong message.

First, I wonder if Cathy McMorris Rodgers--or anyone else for that matter--bothered to read the study. You can read it at the Annals of Internal Medicine where you'll find:

Background: This systematic review is an update of evidence since the 2002 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on breast cancer screening.

Purpose: To determine the effectiveness of mammography screening in decreasing breast cancer mortality among average-risk women aged 40 to 49 years and 70 years or older, the effectiveness of clinical breast examination and breast self-examination, and the harms of screening.

Data Sources: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (through the fourth quarter of 2008), MEDLINE (January 2001 to December 2008), reference lists, and Web of Science searches for published studies and Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium for screening mammography data.

So this is an update and they used data gathered up through December of last year. These are medical professionals doing the job they were appointed, years ago, to do. But rather than find this out for herself, our congresswoman goes on:

“Especially as we have been debating health care reform in America, it is concerning to us that these recommendations mirror policies in single-payer nations like England, where women over 50 are invited once every three years to be screened,” McMorris Rodgers said.

She said the timing of the study “was very curious to me.” She said she saw it as “an example of how government-run decisions could be made.”

First she associates it with that nasty English single payer system. You can read about how their system works here. Women between 50-70 are invited to have an exam every three years. But that doesn't mean that's the only care they're allowed. They explain why women under 50 are not offered routine exams and...

Women can ask their GP to refer them to a hospital breast clinic if they are concerned about a specific breast problem or otherwise worried about the risk of breast cancer.

Can all women in the U.S. do that today? No.

Then McMorris Rodgers remarks about the timing of the study. Yes, it is curious. It's like they were done.

Rodgers, from the three point line. She shoots! (whiff) Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!

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