The Preventative Care Conundrum

The United States Preventive Services Task Force this week released a report that encourages women to wait an extra decade before receiving breast cancer examinations.  Eyebrows were immediately raised not only in the cancer research community but also by lawmakers on the Hill.

Turning years of medical guidelines upside down, the report recommends against routine mammograms for women ages 40 to 49, and recommends that women 75 years or older refrain from having mammograms at all. And instead of increasing caution after waiting an extra decade, the Task Force also suggests that women wait a full two years in between screenings, as opposed to having screenings annually.

The timing here couldn’t be more ironic. While the Task Force is advising that less preventative measures be taken, President Obama and congressional Democrats have touted the need for an increase in preventative health care as an excuse to pass legislation which would allow the federal government to take over our nation’s health care industry.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attempted to disregard public concern surrounding these new recommendations by stating that this Task Force does not determined what services are covered by the federal government.  So why are the Task Force’s findings relevant? According to CNN, “Most of the member companies of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an association of more than 1,300 health insurance providers, look to the task force as the standard.”

Yesterday, I participated in a press conference alongside other women in Congress to express our concerns that this could be the beginning of rationed health care. It’s a fact that the $1.3 trillion health care package passed by the House leaves the door wide open for federal bureaucrats to decide what kinds of health care plans Americans may choose from.  Will the new “Health Care Czar” look to the Task Force’s recommendations when making these decisions, just as nearly 1,300 health insurance providers already do?  Will he ignore recommendations from the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and oncologists across the nation who instead stress the importance of using a cost-benefit analysis to determine which procedures should be covered?

This is simply another example of why the federal government should not be given central control over your health care.  We have made great strides over the years to increase breast cancer awareness and early detection and we do not need the government forcing us to take a step backwards.  The American people deserve 21st century health care reform that mirrors this innovation—a plan that will increase quality and individual control of their own health care—and the Republican plan provides just that.

Michele Bachmann represents Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.