In light of the federal government’s revised recommendations on breast cancer screening (which IWF Chairman Heather Higgins discusses here, and Nicole Kurokawa discusses here), I decided to take a look at how the American Cancer Society (ACS) was handling the news. Just two weeks ago, the ACS (which was recently rated as the most trusted among all the interest groups involved in the health care reform debate) posted this headline on their website:
“House Passes Health Care Reform: Bill is Great Victory for Cancer Patients.”
Prior to the bill’s passage in the House, the ACS was one of the greatest cheerleaders for Obama care, even releasing statements touting the bill’s importance for cancer patients:
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today announced its support of proposed health care legislation that will be debated this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. In a letter to House leaders, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, said the proposed legislation has the potential to take the fight against cancer in this country to a new level. The House bill takes a number of steps to improve health care for cancer patients and their families by refocusing the system to emphasize prevention[…]The House bill proposes a significant investment in cancer prevention and early detection by requiring coverage for cancer screenings including mammography, colonoscopy and Pap tests, as well as for tobacco cessation programs in both public and private plans at little or no cost to patients.
With the release this week of these new government recommendations, one wonders if the ACS will fully grasp the meaning behind these proposed changes. Will they understand how this action could impact “preventative care” in a government-run health care plan? Who knows, but they certainly have their feathers ruffled. Yesterday, they released this statement critical of the recommendations:
The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40. Our experts make this recommendation having reviewed virtually all the same data reviewed by the USPSTF, but also additional data that the USPSTF did not consider. When recommendations are based on judgments about the balance of risks and benefits, reasonable experts can look at the same data and reach different conclusions.
Whether or not the ACS will come around and understand that government-run health care is a net loss for cancer patients is still up in the air. But as an influential advocacy group representing cancer patients in this country, they should be aware that under a government-run health care system, “government” recommendations will be the rule especially when those recommendations could result in major cost savings. IWF Vice President for Policy Carrie Lukas, discusses the cost issue at NRO’s Critical Condition Blog, saying:
While the panel claims that cost wasn’t a factor in their recommendation, if it wasn’t this time with this particular panel, it certainly would be once government was the nation’s primary insurer. And costs have to be taken into consideration: We can’t all get daily body scans just to make sure that nothing unwanted is growing. But again, who should determine how much you are willing to spend on preventative care? Clearly, it should be an individual decision: We should make decisions as we shop for insurance policies that offer a variety of coverage options.