Health panel betrays women

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By Vivek R. Dave

President Obama enjoyed widespread electoral support among women in the past election. The reasons for this are complex and are beyond the scope of this letter. If however we believe that there are no unmotivated behaviors, we must conclude that women voted for Obama in large numbers because they expected to achieve some tangible benefit for this show of electoral confidence.

Now we clearly see how the administration intends to repay women for their support. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel serving at the pleasure of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has recommended that routine mammogram screening not start until age 50. The risk of developing breast cancer for women in their 40s is 1 in 69. If adopted, this recommendation will potentially result in thousands of avoidable deaths annually due to cancers that advanced too far because they went undetected. This is absolutely unconscionable!

Secretary Sebelius claims that “The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside, independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations.” Not so, Madam Secretary — it serves under your department, and it clearly can be influenced by you and the administration.

By the way, this panel is mostly composed of academics and not practicing physicians. This shocking and callous recommendation is a clear attempt by the administration to set the stage for rationing and reduction of services. And yet too many Americans will dismiss it as a “no, never mind.”

I do not wish to leave you with a total picture of doom and gloom, however. The good news is that Indian entrepreneurs are making plans to set up large private hospitals and clinics in the Caribbean, so that when American health care becomes absolutely substandard you will be able to take “medical vacations” and receive world-class treatment while basking in the sun.

Vivek R. Dave

Los Alamos