Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The White House Weighs In & No Surrender Responds


And now the White House weighs in. No Surrender takes them on, point by point. Put me on an enemy list. I've done chemo - twice, you don't scare me.  Bring it on.

The White House Blog

Reality Check: Beware What “Critics Say” on Reform and Mammograms

One of the hallmark tactics from opponents of health insurance reform has been to grab onto any convenient piece of information and twist it into some misguided attack on reform, no matter how unrelated it may actually be.  The hope appears to be that some media outlet will give them unchecked airtime under the banner of covering the “controversy.”  Today they’re going back to that playbook again, and Fox News obliges them with the headline “Critics See Health Care Rationing Behind New Mammography Recommendations.”   The story refers to new recommendations from the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: 

"Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are blasting new guidelines from a government task force that recommends against routine mammographies for women under 50,  questioning whether they are tantamount to health care ‘rationing’ in the fight against the No. 2 cancer killer in U.S. women."
There’s only one problem: the recommendations of this task force would actually be used to provide access to effective preventive services for free or at low-cost. The USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way.   The line of attack is actually somewhat ironic, because one of the guiding principles of reform from the very beginning in March has been to invest in significantly increased  effective preventive care, something these “critics” never seemed to care much about over the past 8 months. 

Just so there’s no ambiguity, here are the answers to about every question you (or “critics”) might have on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: 

Will Medicare now stop paying for breast cancer mammography for women because of this recommendation?
Women who are currently getting mammograms under Medicare will continue to be able to get them. There are no plans to change that. The law states that in order to change Medicare coverage of mammograms a formal rule making process must be undertaken and that is not happening.


Isn’t this the first step toward denying coverage for mammograms?

No. The Task force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care that evaluates available evidence and makes recommendations about effective clinical preventive services based on scientific information. Under the health insurance reform legislation, the USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way. Their recommendations would be used in health reform to identify effective clinical preventive services. 

How will this recommendation affect private health insurance coverage?
The Task Force does not address insurance coverage and payment issues; it focuses on the science of the clinical services it evaluates.   Each insurance company is different and makes its own coverage decisions.  The Task Force recognizes that clinical and policy decisions involve more consideration that this body of evidence alone.  Clinicians and policymakers should understand the evidence but individualize decision making to the specific patient or situation.

Tommy Thompson said the Task Force recommendations were the official position of the U.S. Government. Is that your position?
We have tremendous respect for the Task Force and the work they have done.  They are an independent scientific body that makes recommendations based on scientific evidence; however they do not set official policy for the federal government. Under health reform, their recommendations would be used to identify preventive services that must be provided for little or no cost.

Won’t the USPSTF be used to ration care under health reform?
Absolutely not.  The USPSTF, an independent task force made up of some of the nation’s top doctors and scientists provides science-based recommendations regarding the most effective preventive, treatment and screening services. The Task Force’s recommendations would be used to help determine the types of services that must be provided for at little or no cost and the Task Force would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way..

What do these recommendations mean for the current health reform bills?
While the bills are still being drafted and debated in Congress, health insurance reform legislation generally calls for the Task Force’s recommendations to help determine the types of preventive services that must be provided for little or no cost. The recommendations alone cannot be used to deny treatment.
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NO SURRENDER RESPONDS


WH says: "One of the hallmark tactics from opponents of health insurance reform has been to grab onto any convenient piece of information and twist it into some misguided attack on reform, no matter how unrelated it may actually be."

NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: There is not one piece of information that can be twisted to look any other way than it already appears: The Task Force has decided to murder thousands of women a year with these recommendations. 


WH says: Fox News is guiding critics. "the recommendations of this task force would actually be used to provide access to effective preventive services for free or at low-cost. The USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way.   The line of attack is actually somewhat ironic, because one of the guiding principles of reform from the very beginning in March has been to invest in significantly increased  effective preventive care, something these “critics” never seemed to care much about over the past 8 months. "


NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: Fox News doesn't have to tell us anything. We are breast cancer survivors. We have heard the words that changed our lives forever. We are alive today because our cancers were found early enough to let us live for a few years. The USPTF will have a direct impact on insurance companies denying us coverage. It is giving fuel to any cost saving measures they can find. We already have to fight like hell to get a breast MRI or PET scans. To say that you are working to significantly increase preventative care then you obviously don't care about preventative care for anyone under the age of 50.


The WH Says: Women who are currently getting mammograms under Medicare will continue to be able to get them. There are no plans to change that. The law states that in order to change Medicare coverage of mammograms a formal rule making process must be undertaken and that is not happening.


NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: Of course women under Medicare will still get their mammograms... they are all over the age of 62 and fall into the screening guidelines. What about those of us who are under fifty with the most aggressive tumors? 


The WH Says: Under the health insurance reform legislation, the USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way. Their recommendations would be used in health reform to identify effective clinical preventive services. 

NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: Do you think we can't read? Their recommendation is that women should stop baseline self exams, stop mammograms, and only start bi-annual screening after the age of fifty. If their recommendations "would be used in health reform" then you will be denying coverage to women under the age of 50. 

The WH Says: The Task Force does not address insurance coverage and payment issues; it focuses on the science of the clinical services it evaluates.   Each insurance company is different and makes its own coverage decisions.  

NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: Under Health Reform, private insurance will be regulated by the government. They will also be competing with their own regulators. If their regulators are not covering mammograms for women under 50, so, too, will they follow. 

The WH says: Under health reform, the task force's recommendations would be used to identify preventive services that must be provided for little or no cost.

 NO SURRENDER RESPONDS: There is nothing "preventative" in denying screening to all women under the age of fifty. All you are focusing on is the cost saving of not having to pay for millions of mammograms any longer. The task force and their guidelines will be followed to the letter by insurance companies and their "regulators" also known as the Federal Government.

The WH Says: The USPSTF, an independent task force made up of some of the nation’s top doctors and scientists provides science-based recommendations regarding the most effective preventive, treatment and screening services. The Task Force’s recommendations would be used to help determine the types of services that must be provided for at little or no cost  

NO SURRENDER RESPONDS:
There is nothing "preventative" in these recommendations. The task force does not have a single oncologist on it. You admit you will be using these recommendations. You will be responsible for the murder of millions of women whose cancers are missed until they are found too late.


No Surrender Concludes:


With all due respect, you have no idea what in hell you are talking about. EARLY DETECTION IS OUR ONLY DEFENSE. Denying mammography to women until they are fifty will kill women. They won't die right away, they will suffer horribly first. Then they will die. If you want to represent the "hope and change" you promised, get insurance companies to start paying for mammograms BEFORE THE AGE OF FORTY. We are losing a generation of women. Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of forty. African American women will be effected the most by this murderous legislation since they develop a more aggressive form of breast cancer BEFORE FORTY. Without early detection, it cannot be controlled and it spreads rapidly and they die.

We may not be doctors... but we are warriors who have all fought on the front lines of breast cancer. We will not give up this fight. We will not let you murder our sisters.  You have no idea what you are up against.  To quote a truly great leader, we leave you with how we feel about this task force and the possibility it passes into legislation:


"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight
with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our [sisters], whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; We shall never surrender." (Sir Winston Churchill)



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