Congress Protects Breasts from Science, Themselves


In a roll call vote (all the better to point fingers at lady haters later, my pretties) the Senate voted 61-39 today to make mammograms untouchable and require all insurance plans to offer them without a copay, forever and ever amen. The vote helped break a couple of days of gridlock in the health care reform debate.

Welcome to the future of health care decisions in the United States. While most health care choices will remain outside the political sphere, every time a procedure or drug pops into the news—complete with sob stories featuring bald children and/or adults missing vital parts—we'll get a cycle of senatorial speechifying followed by a vote on a bill or amendment that will circumscribe behavior of doctors, patients, or insurance companies.

Plus, we're doomed to an eternity of quotes like this:

"The insurance companies take being a woman as a pre-existing condition," [Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)] said. "We face so many issues and hurdles. We can't get health care."

For the most part, all the yakking and bill-passing will not solve the underlying problem that sparked the interest in the health issue in the first place. In this case, promising to make mammograms free does nothing to resolve the legitimate debate about the utility of breast cancer screening in women under the age of 50 with no risk factors. But nevermind that: Everyone who wants to be is on record as being pro-boobs.

Last week, Reason's Ron Bailey asked "Who Decides If Breast Tests Are Best?"