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Innovation

Politicians play doctor and never mind the cost

Every other nation on Earth makes decisions on what to cover, and how, based on data. Only the United States leaves such questions in the hands of politicians.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The Senate took its first vote on health reform today.

(Shown is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, from his Web site.)

Naturally it was about covering a specific procedure. Naturally, science lost.

There was a way for science to thread this needle on yearly mammograms.

Some women are subject, due to family history or genetics, to highly-aggressive forms of breast cancer, and at a relatively young age. We can find out who they are. We can cover them.

But as U.S. Preventive Services Task Force noted recently, not all women bear these risks. Women are mutilating themselves at the first breath of the word "cancer" and, the scientists say, they don't have to.

Today's vote explicitly rejects this science, and the cost is going to be high.

Want to know why our health care costs are so ridiculous? One reason is that politicians are deciding what will be covered, and how you will be treated.

Right now 50 state insurance commissioners have this power. In some states, your insurance has to pay for Christian Scientists to pray over people. The rules on what to cover and how are all over the map, subject to the influence of business and ideological lobbyists of all kinds.

Science? It's like asking former coach Jim Mora about the play-offs when his team couldn't win a game. (That team is currently undefeated and quarterback Peyton Manning takes a real scientific approach.) Science? You're talking science?

A lot has already been done to collect the data necessary to decide what should and should not be covered, with insurance dollars or tax dollars. But data means nothing unless you use it, unless you change what you are doing in response to it.

We have decided to reject the data. Or rather you have, through your elected representatives, both state and federal. You let yourself get hyped up about "death panels" or "politicians getting between you and your doctor" as though that were this bill's intent, when in fact that is the current situation.

Every other nation on Earth makes decisions on what to cover, and how, based on data. Only the United States leaves such questions in the hands of politicians.

This does not mean you should be absolutely bound by an insurer's unwillingness to cover your cancer through the power of prayer. You have the right to do what you want with your body. Just not with my money. Not with my insurance money, not with my tax money.

Until we, the people stop interfering with medical science in what treatments are justified for what conditions, we won't get our costs in line with those countries that rely on science for this.

As Yoda might say, harsh this is. But true it also is.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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