Senator Barrasso brings an interesting perspective to the health care debate as doctor/orthopedic surgeon. However, it is his experience as the husband of a breast cancer survivor that provided one of the most compelling moments of last Saturday’s health care debate from the Senate floor. Senator McCain asked Senator Barrasso about how advisory boards factor into the proposed health care legislation…
Mr MCCAIN. Now that is a nice academic discussion. But I would ask-maybe Dr. Barrasso would answer it-isn’t that the kind of advisory board this legislation could put into law; that those kinds of mandates could come down, which could literally jeopardize the health and lives of Americans?
Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I would say to my colleague and friend from Arizona, this type of legislation would have cost my wife her life. She is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed by a routine screening mammogram. She was in her forties when that mammogram was performed. She went through the testing and had the operation. In that age, in her forties, she already had the breast cancer spread from her breast to one of the lymph nodes. It was a screening mammogram that saved her life. She has had three operations, two bouts of chemotherapy. As a result, she is a survivor-6 years later.
But this piece of legislation says: No, no, do not worry about it. There is not going to be any denial of care. There is not going to be anything like that. But if you turn to page 1,150, it talks specifically about this preventative task force, specifically saying when they make their recommendations there is going to be money that taxpayers are going to pay to tell people what those recommendations are. Then, if you go to page 1,190, it says that if it is not approved, they will deny payment for that service-deny payment.
What will and won’t be covered in a government-run health insurance option is no minor issue. Two seperate panels in the last week have suggested less cancer screening, the most controversial of which stated that women in their forties don’t need mammograms. As Senator Barrasso can attest, that could cost some women their lives. Supporters of this bill owe the American people a better explanation of the nuts and bolts of this plan; probably more to the point, they owe the American people a better bill.