November 17th, 2009
07:03 PM ET
4 years ago

Wasserman Schultz: Health panel findings 'disturbing'

(CNN) - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized an influential health panel's new guidelines recommending that women get mammograms less frequently, calling some of the findings "disturbing" and "patronizing."

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent group of health care experts, issued new guidelines on Tuesday recommending that women in their 40s not get routine mammograms, and refrain from doing regular self exams. Part of the reason, one panel member told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, is to prevent women from worrying too much about having cancer.

"The harms of screening is what we call the false positives," Lucy Marion, the dean of the school of nursing at the Medical College of Georgia said. "In other words, women will have unnecessary worry about cancer. They may have unnecessary biopsy. In some cases they may have more radiation than healthy for them, though in most cases, that's a minor problem. But there are those harms, and we weigh those harms with the benefits of the few women that would benefit from that."

Wasserman Schultz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41 and said she found it though a self-exam, introduced a bill in March to teach even younger women about early detection. She said on Tuesday that women need to get more information to make educated decisions about their health care.


"To assume that women armed with more information about their own breast health would simply get hysterical and have anxiety and not know what to do and not make a sound decision in consultation with their health care professional is patronizing," Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We need to make sure that women get more information, not less, and make sure that women are screened because we know that early detection and screening saves lives."

This panel's findings in the past have been used by insurance companies to decide what to cover. Wasserman Schultz said the fear is that they may drop their coverage of routine exams.

"It's right when we're trying to reform our health care system, change it from a sick care system to one focused on prevention," she said. "This task force is recommending women 40 to 49 years old don't have preventive screenings to potentially detect breast cancer and insurance companies could start to use that as standard practice for coverage decisions."

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Albo58

    Wait a second, Debbie! You supported Queen Nan's fiasco and wanted the government to take over health care! Our health care has to be "deficit neutral" so cuts have to be made according to your leader!

    November 17, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Must admit, that is a very strange finding...didn't even really believe it earlier when I heard it. However, it would be nice if you'd provide a link to it CNN so we don't have to wonder whether anyone, including CNN, is misrepresenting what the actual finding is. I know you don't like people clicking away from the abundant advertising material on the website, but if you really want to do your job, you should cite your sources and make them easy to access.

    November 17, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Gerry

    The more people that get these life threating illnesses and die the more the government will save on health care cost. They don't care about us they care about the budget.

    November 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. D.

    This is what happens when committees, politicians, opinionated "experts," and others try to stand between a woman and her doctor.

    Health care is about "health" and "care" and then "insurance" and "cost" and we all fail to realize this, concentrating on our own special interest: Republicans on protecting private insurance company, and democrats, even worse, claiming to protect the uninsured but protect first of all their trial lawyer friends.

    We need politicians who care about people, not about their re-election (and the congresswoman, when it finally touches a personal experience, realizes the danger of politicizing health)!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 17, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. usualone

    I heard there were no oncologists in the panel. Two times I was scared by the mammogram results. But I'd rather go there than find out that there were actual problems because I had to skip every other year to get the exam. Also, when I become 75, I don't want to be told I cannot have the exam. My life, I hope, will be just as valuable then as it is now. Talk about throwing away the elderly if we should get this kind of cancer without having proper screening.

    November 17, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. Alan

    Yes we must limit mamograms. Why should women be allowed to use up resources that don't apply to men. Imagine the cost savings if we just eliminated mamos altogether.

    I have another great idea!! Eliminate prostrate screenings for men as well. This will save us millions!!

    Oh well, this will all come about soon enough. Just as soon as the "health care reform" bill passes.

    November 17, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  7. New Age Independent

    One seriously has to question the motives of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force here. Is this a sign of healthcare to come?

    There is no reasonable conclusion made by the group that supports the health and welfare of anyone. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36! You'd be shocked at how many younger women are battling this horrible disease. More prevention, NOT LESS, is needed here.

    November 17, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Diane

    Someone needs to tell Congresswoman Schultz that she can't have her cake and eat it, too. She is a major proponent of abortion. Or, as she likes to call it, "women's rights". Doesn't she know that women who have had abortions have a high risk of getting breast cancer? So, which is it Congresswoman? Do you want women to have the right to kill their baby, which, not only leads to the death of an innocent life, but a deadly illness to the mother? Or, do you want to go straight to woman's rights for breast cancer detection and forget about the baby's rights? Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

    November 17, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Nothing has changed, if you want your annual exam you can still have it, that's totally up to you and your insurance will still pay. So don't panic ladies, get the whole truth, this is no more than a medical analysis to give you that choice.

    November 17, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    this is a way the insurance companies can safe money on less tests being done each year .. they would love it if all of us just paid and never used the insurance so they could get richer and richer .. what a sick groupd of CEO'S ..we need to get a public plan and get rid of insurance companies ..and thats exactlywhat they are afraid of ..loosing control of us ,all of us to a public plan

    proud of our president
    gary davis
    harbor oregon

    November 17, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. Agree

    She's an embarrassment to all women but I'm glad she's a Republican. They can have her – wink, wink!

    November 17, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. NC

    I found a small lump in my breast when I was 45 years old. I knew that less than 6 months before my mammogram did not reveal anything unusual. Tets revealed it was a cyst. My twin sister was diagnosed with breast cancer when we were 46 years old. Were it not for her telling me about a lump she found and my urging her to go to her Doctor, I just don't want to think about what could have happened to my other-half. My twin sister had skipped her mammogram for 2 years when the lump was found because she was taking care of her ill daughter. She is presently doing good and always gets her yearly mammogram. Since the age of 40 I have a mammogram every year and have done so for 19 years. How dare anyone think that a mammogram is not important for women. I don't have unnecessary worry about Cancer because I do self exams and get a mommogram every year. I want all women to have the health care that I do. My health insurance pays 100% coverage for my mammogram.
    Thank you Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz for speaking for all women about this matter.

    November 17, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. joe

    The health "reform" hasn't passed yet, and already we are getting rationing. Keep it up, the House will be conservative again in 2010....Is all this coming out now (mammograms, 9/11 civilian trial, EPA squelching internal cap and trade dissent) because Obama's is Asia? Do the Dems think the American people are such morons that this won't reflect poorly on him and the hacks in Congress....

    November 17, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. leavemybreastalone

    A crystal ball of things 2 come?

    November 17, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Mike in Las Vegas

    You have got to be kidding. The ostridge approach to breast cancer will get a lot of women killed. I lost my wife to this disease two months ago. She found her lump by self-examination followed up with a mammogram and then biopsy. If someone had told her when she was in her 40’s not to bother with examination, she easily would have been lulled into ignoring it in her 50’s and she would have been dead several years ago. Her Oncologist frequently commented on the fact that her patients were getting younger and younger, some of it she attributed to early detection, some to better diagnostic tools, but mostly to awareness. Telling women not to worry until they are “older” is platenly ridiculous and those making such statements should relinquish their credentials as “experts.”

    Women are dying needlessly, victims of a broken health system, poorly coordinated research and now just plain bad advice. Examinations in high school or college would probably reveal a number of cases and these lives could likely be saved. People this is a serious matter and needs serious attention! If Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz had been given this advice and followed it, her family would be going through what I am now. I wish the good Congresswoman all the best and continued good health and the strength to strike out at stupidity anywhere she finds it, and there is plenty in Washington, D.C.

    November 17, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  16. Greg, MN

    This smells like a conclusion drawn by a government "death panel". We will hear many more of these "new" (COST SAVING) recommendations from the federal government health programs.

    Get use to it people its what you elected last November.

    November 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. Clayton

    Ok all you liberals who are in favor of completely reconstructing health care...here is your first example of rationed care. Thanks a lot Barry, Harry and Nancy.

    November 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. LacrosseDad

    it's called rationed healthcare, the first step in Obama's socialized program for America

    November 17, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. annie against biased news

    So even before government rationed no-health care criminal bill is passed the government death panels is already limiting care.

    November 17, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  20. mjm

    "In some cases they may have more radiation than healthy for them.."

    Right there we know this "panel" is full of it. You get more radiation from air plane travel then you do form an x-ray. Especially a low energy x-ray like a mammogram. You could have 60-70 maximum dose x-rays and it still wouldn't be harmful.

    The only reason for this panel’s finding is to start eliminating services in preparation for government run health care.

    And no offense to nurses, but since when do they get to call the shots on patient care. Even if Lucy is a dean, in fact that’s even worse. The decision should be between the doctor and patient.

    Wait…..this isn’t considered a “death panel” is it? Because it seems like it to me.

    November 17, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. tony

    You voted for this panel in the stimulus package, Debbie.
    Was it unintended consequences?
    Take time toread and understand what you are voting for in the future.

    November 17, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  22. New Independent from Iowa

    I'm a 8 year breast cancer survior because I had all the tests on time. Had it not been for my mammogram I may not have made it this far. Is this what we can expect with Obama's Health Care Reform? God help us all!

    November 17, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. kman821

    Once again Ms. Wasserman Schultz is on the correct side of a very important issueI I'm always impressed with her intelligence and her all-to-unique ability to get to the point of a variety of big issues with great clarity ... and usually leaving little for the opposition to counter with!

    November 17, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  24. kr

    In all due respect I can not believe such a thing is in that bill. The republicans have used so many scare tactics it is hard to separate the lies from truths.

    November 17, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. Jasmine in Germany

    It is amazing how US private insurance companies suddenly take a 360° stance towards their insured. Wow. What a corrupt system the U.S. has. The US is behind the times with first class medical care (compared to other nations) , part of the problem is that the U. S. is a "suing society". This "syndrome" has forced medical doctors out of the business or to compromise their ethics. Is that really the "American Way"? If so, the USA has a lot extra to e ashamed about.

    November 17, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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