A few weeks ago a controversy erupted over a government task force recommending that women not bother to do at-home self-exams for breast cancer and refrain from getting mammograms until they’re in their 50’s. Liberals poo-poo’d the idea that this was government rationing, and the Obama administration came right out and said that the panel should be ignored.
But the panel hasn’t been ignored. A full 20 states have now cut funding for mammogram screenings after this task force made its recommendations:
As the economy falters and more people go without health insurance, low-income women in at least 20 states are being turned away or put on long waiting lists for free cancer screenings, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
In the unofficial survey of programs for July 2008 through April 2009, the organization found that state budget strains are forcing some programs to reject people who would otherwise qualify for free mammograms and Pap smears. …
At least 14 states cut budgets for free cancer screenings this year: Colorado, Montana, Illinois, Alabama, Minnesota, Connecticut, South Carolina, Utah, Missouri, Washington, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. …
The issue of when women should get mammograms erupted into controversy last month when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that the exams not be given routinely until women are 50, and then every two years.
That broke with the Cancer Society’s long-standing position that women should begin getting mammograms at the age of 40 and annually thereafter; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends mammograms every one to two years for women in their 40s and every year after age 50.
Now we can argue about whether or not the taxpayers should be footing the bill for free cancer screenings in the first place (they shouldn’t). We can argue about whether or not these are prudent cuts from overburdened state budgets (they probably are). But the point here is that when the government provides you with health care they tend to ration it. They make decisions for you, and those decisions aren’t usually so much made with your best interests in mind but theirs.
Better a system of health care where you can always buy as much health care as you want, knowing you may not be able to afford all you need, than one where the government decides for you exactly what you get and when.