Thursday, November 19, 2009

When Is It Going To Be Their Turn?

November has not been a good month for American women. The American Council of Bishops (Roman Catholic) got involved in health care reform by insisting that no government money, including the subsidies paid for health insurance for those who could not otherwise afford it, could be spent on abortion. They found a sponsor in Congressman Bart Stupak, and his amendment passed. The Senate bill also contains similar language, although it is reportedly not as restrictive as the Stupak amendment.

Although abortion is a legal medical procedure, the House (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi)felt that rather than push back against the anti-abortion forces they'd go along with them just so they could pass a health care reform bill. The excuse, once again, was "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Well, that bill is NOT good, especially for women. It is, in fact, deadly.

But wait, there's more.

Now a government study suggests that annual mammograms for women under 50 are unnecessary. Nice, eh? I guess the panel has decided that women under 50 don't get breast cancer, or at least shouldn't. Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe takes on that issue in her latest column and points to the direct consequences of both the Stupak amendment and the government study for women.

Now, a government panel is telling women in their 40s that they don’t need routine mammograms. According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, the benefits of screening are supposedly outweighed by the potential for unnecessary tests and procedures and the anxiety they might cause.

You want anxious women? Take away health insurance coverage for routine mammograms.

Yes, these are simply guidelines; they are not yet part of any legislative proposal. The panel said it did not consider costs in the analysis.

On their face, they don’t stop any woman who wants a mammogram from getting one at any age.

But the panel’s guidelines can help health insurance companies position themselves down the road for this high anxiety-inducing outcome - the denial of coverage for routine mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 49.

That, in turn, creates a two-tier health care system: Those who can afford to pay for screening on their own, and those who can’t.
Those who can’t afford it are left to ponder the somber words of Dr. Daniel Kopans, a radiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

Kopans told The Globe that the panel’s recommendations “will condemn women ages 40 to 49 to unnecessary deaths from breast cancer.’’ Maybe Sarah Palin’s “death panel’’ warning isn’t hyperbole after all.
[Emphasis added]

Of course, all of this could have been avoided with a single-payer health system, but that was taken off the table even before the table was bought by the insurance companies and medical providers. Instead, we get a half vast program that maximizes profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies and minimizes coverage for millions, over half of of whom are women.

Ms. Vennochi notes the dreadfully unfair results:

...somehow, health care costs will be reduced. But, at whose expense will those reductions come?

As women are finding out, every aspect of health care reform won’t be win-win for everyone. Cost control is a necessary part of the reform equation. But no one has yet cut treatment for erectile dysfunction. Why are women the first losers out of the reform box?

Why indeed?

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Obama and the Dims are willing to trade women's reproductive health for the the triumphant signing next year of The-Bill-That-Is-Too-Big-To-Fail...

10:35 AM  

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