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Burton Calls On GOP Senators To Protest Against Rationing Mammograms

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Posted: Friday, December 4, 2009 2:05 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN-05) sent letters to each Republican Senator asking them to wear a pink tie or shirt as they debate the health care bill this month.  This demonstration would be in opposition to the potential rationing of mammograms caused by the Health and Human Services Department's Preventative Services Task Force (PSTF) recommendation that women under age 50 stop getting annual mammograms. Rep. Burton released the following statement as the letters were being delivered:

"Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for all women aged 35 to 54.  This fact is painfully obvious to millions of American women who have fought this disease, and those who have witnessed a family member or personal friend battle for their life. 

"The ugly side of government-run health care - rationed care - has shown its face through the Preventative Services Task Force (PSTF) and their new ruling, which puts price tags and cost efficiency above patient care.  Democrats and others who argue against this position are simply ignorant to the text of their health care bills, which specifically empower the PSTF to become the arbiter of the health benefits that health insurers will be forced to provide. 

"In an effort to echo the outrage of many cancer organizations, I have called upon all Republican Senators to wear a pink tie or shirt as they debate the Senate version of government-run health care.  This visual protest will be a sign of solidarity with women across America, and it will send a concerted message that the Republican Party is staunchly opposed to rationing mammograms, or any other policy that rations health care."

BACKGROUND:

Courtesy of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a complete, step-by-step, breakdown of how H.R. 3962 would specifically ration mammograms: http://blackburn.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=156577

Full text of Rep. Burton's letter to all Republican Senators:

Dear Senator ___________:

As you know, women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except for skin cancer.  Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in women; and each year it is estimated that nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. 

Despite these sobering statistics, and the fact that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for all women aged 35-54, last month, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of medical experts appointed by the Federal government, recommended that women under the age of 50 stop receiving annual mammograms.  As recently as 2002, however, that same Task Force affirmed its recommendation that women 40 and older undergo annual mammograms to check for breast cancer.  Although nothing substantial changed in the clinical evidence between 2002 and 2009, unlike in 2002, this year the panel re-analyzed the data with health-care spending as a core concern.  In other words, the Task Force’s recommendation is largely based upon the conclusion that screening younger women for breast cancer is simply not an efficient use of health care dollars.

Every Democratic version of health care “reform,” including the bill currently before the Senate, makes this task force an arbiter of the benefits that health care insurers will be mandated to provide. Consequently what are now merely recommendations will become rules.  These kinds of cost analyses will inevitably become more common under the national health care system envisioned by our Democrat colleagues as government bureaucrats try to bend the health care cost curve downward. 

As the health care debate gets underway on the Senate floor, I respectfully ask you to demonstrate your opposition to health care rationing – and show your solidarity with breast cancer survivors  – by wearing a pink shirt or tie (the universally recognized color of the fight against breast cancer) as you deliberate on this important issue.  Health care decisions should be made by patients and their doctors not by government accountants.

                        Sincerely,

                        Dan Burton

                        Member of Congress

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