Posted October 4, 2013 by Kris Held, MD
As a guest on Fox and Friends last week, I discussed harmful effects of Obamacare on cancer patients with Elizabeth Hasselbeck. We opened by discussing a recent article (September,9,2013) taken directly from the government’s very own Medline Plus-Trusted Information for You, from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health (NIH), entitled “Most Breast Cancer Deaths Occur in Younger, Unscreened Women: Study- Mammograms should begin at 40, researcher says”. This article specifically cites the controversial 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations regarding mammograms and reports conflicting findings from new breast cancer research published in September’s Cancer by Dr. Blake Cady, professor emeritus of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Cady’s study supports annual mammogram screening starting at age 40. The mammogram debacle is a perfect example of how Obamacare will adversely affect cancer patients. As I stated, Obamacare has panels and task forces that change the very recommendations that have given American women the earliest diagnosis and highest survival rates in the world and defy the American Cancer Society recommendations and our established standard of care. This is all 100% true, and the USPSTF recommendations remain at this very moment posted on HHS’s own website. “The USPSTF recommendation is important because coverage and reimbursement for preventive services under Medicare and Medicaid depends on A or B level USPSTF recommendation”-a quote from HHS website itself. A and B level are covered, C is not. Mammograms were given a C for women 40-49. Women over 74 were graded I- for insufficient evidence-also not covered.
In the short segment, I was unable to fully express my concern for not only cancer patients, but all patients under Obamacare, who will be subject to recommendations and grades from USPSTF in determining what is covered and what is not going forward. What is worse, Dr. Cady has reported that the data used by USPSTF actually demonstrated that annual screening improved outcomes, “Their models showed that annual screening improved outcomes by 70%. But their paper did not discuss that. They were concerned with how resources would be allocated, and emphasized the “harms” of screening mammography.” Resource allocation by government panels in determining standards of medical care is injurious to the American patient. USPSTF is willing to watch women die to “allocate resources”. USPSTF made a financial calculation to save the government money when it recommended women in their forties skip mammograms altogether: in order to save a life, 1900 women in their forties would need to be screened, while only 1300 women in their fifties would need to be screened. My point remains, the existence of such government panels and task forces in Obamacare is detrimental to the preservation of lives.
A few hours later, the paradoxically-named Media Matters, posted “research” refuting their off-base spins of my comments, as well as the government’s very own NIH article. Media Matters is clearly concerned about politics not patients and distorted my comments, because they do not want the American patient to know the evil truth about USPSTF and its definitive role in Obamacare. I call this media malpractice. Besides the false, run-on title, my favorite part of this Media Matters page of lies is -“Reporting on a speech by task force vice chairwoman Dr. Diane Petitti, the NIH Record, a newsletter published for employees of the National Institutes of Health, points out that the ACA covers mammograms …” A newsletter reporting on a speech? Really? My point was not that when USPSTF recommendations raise “a firestorm of debate- and confusion” (AKA public outcry), the Secretary of HHS can change them at her whim-unscientifically, if it is expedient for her, or she likes a group, or she doesn’t like a group. My point remains, government panels and task forces that make up Obamacare have no business practicing medicine, pose a threat to life and liberty and have no place in American healthcare law.
In the ensuing two minutes, I touched on other harmful effects of Obamacare on cancer patients including doctor shortages, stifled innovation and technology, perverse incentives of ACO’s and hospital employed physicians, and the likes of the 340B program which siphons money from drug-developers to hospitals at the expense of the patient. Interestingly, Media Matters had no compunction to lie about these; nonetheless, I will elucidate them in future writing.
Sadly, Obamacare disproportionately hurts those who need actual medical care most desperately. As a physician, cancer patient and mother of four daughters, I will not incur such misrepresentation and denigration by the political arm of the proponents of Obamacare cloaked as “media”, without responding with truth. You see, that’s what doctors, patients, and mothers do; we seek and operate in truth. I have read the law; I live it. Media Matters is despicable in their lame attempt to mislead the American people by contorting my comments and covering up the ominous impact of USPSTF and other Obamacare panels, councils, and boards of government bureaucrats, such as The Independent payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PQRI), making our life and death decisions.
Thank you to Fox and Friends, particularly Elizabeth, for having me on to shine light on the plight of cancer patients under Obamacare. The Media Matters’ piece should more aptly be titled, “Obamacare Propagandists Conspire and Slander Physician, Cancer Patient Who Has Actually Read Obamacare to Perpetuate Cover-Up of Unethical Misogynistic USPSTF Mammogram Recommendations That All-Powerful HHS Secretary Sebilius Claims Are Non-Binding And Subject To Change At Whim (Sec.4105) in Response to Public Outcry To Appease Her Base and Keep Obamacare Law of The Land”.