Buttle's World

8 January, 2010

GOP Needs a Medical Clue

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 10:10

One of the many bad side effects of this immoral, insane, and illegal effort to nationalize health care is the politicization of medical science. There are many good reasons (besides the constitutional one that should strangle this monster in its crib) to oppose Obamacare.

But one thing many on the Right keep harping on, namely the new recommendations on mammography, is going to make the GOP look stupid.

The health care reform bill, in particular, has created fear among women of all political persuasions. After all, women are responsible for most health care decisions and spend two out of every three health care dollars. The overwhelming majority of health care workers are women, including 95 percent of home health care workers, 90 percent of nurses, and the majority of first year medical students. In November, women around the country reacted fiercely when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women ages 40 to 49 should not be routinely screened with a mammogram for breast cancer. It seemed the federal government was telling young women to just roll the dice when it came to this deadly disease.

The truth is that mammography screening for women aged 40 and above is one of the major health care advances of the past 40 years. With the onset of mammography screening, the death rate from advanced breast cancer has decreased by 30 percent since 1990. That’s why the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure have made it clear they will not change their guidelines urging women to be screened starting at age 40.

It’s true that it’s suicidal to turn over your health care decisions to the government. But those new recommendations are based on the latest science. That said, they are not the final word. It’s well worth reading David Gorski’s post on SBM in order to wrap your mind around what is a complex situation. What’s hard to intuit is that increased screening does not necessarily save lives. There are valid reasons to criticize the recommendations, but they should be based on science and not political hysteria.


1 Comment »

  1. By the USPSTF own statements, their use of computer modeling and efficient frontier analysis introduces new techniques not traditionally used in evidence based medicine. They have moved from “evidence based medicine” to “evidence informed medicine” (in their supporting articles for colorectal cancer screening). Using a decision analysis incorporating assessment of value does not confer scientific validity. This is not the latest science, it is the latest economic analysis. The latest science is well summarized in their supporting articles. The emotional response reflects annoyance that the economic assessment now masquerades as the latest science. The USPSTF is not to blame, because they explicitly state that they are selecting the most efficient solution, not the most effective solution. The politicians are to blame because they try to hide rationing under the guise of science (both in the MIPPA act of 2008, and the current healthcare reform bills, at least until the public outcry). The media is to blame (including many scientists in the media) for not accurately reporting the recommendations (or reading the supporting articles, something a scientist should do).

    Comment by JMB — 23 January, 2010 @ 9:50

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