Health care deja vu or political faux pas?

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - In 1997, a National Institutes of Health panel said routine mammograms for women in their 40's may not be worth the risks.  The findings were followed by a a unanimous Senate vote endorsing routine screenings for those women.

You cannot help but get a sense of health care deja vu.  But many are concerned the political ramifications could be detrimental to passing good health care reform.

"These panels work for months and years with this data, so why it was released now, I don't know," said Dr. Barbara Allen, chief of primary care with Trinity Mother Frances Hospital and clinics.

Meanwhile, health care senses are tingling in the heartland and on Capitol Hill.

The Senate is poised to weigh in on the health care overhaul.  Allen said the timing could not be worse.

Allen said the move does not further the cause of health care reform, but Rather causes more concern for other preventative tests: screenings for diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, and other ailments.

"Delaying the diagnoses of diseases does not prevent suffering," she said.

Rep. Louie Gohmert said this is just the beginning of the politicization of every treatment.

"You don't want a government board or panel telling you the risks are not as great as the benefits, or vice-versa," he said.

He said the timing may be perfect.

"The Senate will get the message that Americans do not want the government running their health care for them."

David Henderson, chair of the Smith County Democratic Party, said the fallout may come in profits, not necessarily in politics.

"If you don't get sick, then the hospitals don't fill up, the pharmaceutical companies don't sell medicine, doctors don't have as many patients, and the whole thing costs a whole lot less," said Henderson.

He said it is way too early to tell whether evaluating breast-cancer screenings will be the glue that holds health care reform together.  He said legislation is never written in stone.

"It's going to be written one way, and immediately people will start trying to change it."

Tuesday, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) is chairman of the House Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced he will hold hearings on the mammogram issue beginning early next month.

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