As everyone knows, California is in a financial crisis to beat all crises and is looking for every way possible to cut costs. The most recent cost cutting measure it has taken is its implementation of the US Preventative Services Task Force’s mammogram recommendation (via Hot Air):
The eligibility age for state-subsidized breast cancer screening has been raised from 40 to 50 by the California Health and Human Services Agency, which will also temporarily stop enrollment in the breast cancer screening program.
Advocates for low-income women, whose health care the department helps pay for, say the cuts put a two-tier system in place that is based on money rather than medical standards.
The cuts will greatly harm the clinic’s mammogram program, said Natasha Riley, manager of Vista Community Clinic’s Breast Health Outreach and Education Program.
The clinic and others like it in San Diego County provide reduced-cost care, mostly to low-income people, with money from the state and some private donations.
“More than 50 percent of the women we give breast exams and mammograms to are in their 40s,” Riley said. “The majority of our current breast cancer survivors are women in their 40s.”
The state’s decision, announced Dec. 1 and effective Jan. 1, follows a controversial federal recommendation last month that mammograms before the age of 50 are generally not needed.
However, the public health department also linked the change to California’s budget woes.
This is not a surprise that California has jumped on this new recommendation in order to help save money, and I would not be shocked to see other financially strapped states follow suit. Once that happens, we will see that insurance companies will eventually do the same.
According to a report at NPR, the task force’s recommendations will hit black women the hardest:
Many African-American women don’t fit the profile of the average American woman who gets breast cancer. For them, putting off the first mammogram until 50 — as recommended by a government task force — could put their life in danger.
“One size doesn’t fit all,” says Lovell Jones, director of the Center for Research on Minority health at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Jones says the guidelines recently put out by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force covered a broad segment of American women based on the data available. “Unfortunately,” he says, “the data on African-Americans, Hispanics and to some extent Asian-Americans is limited.”
The report says that black women die at significantly higher rates from breast cancer than white women do. One of the possible reasons for this descrepancy is that black women don’t get screened as often or as early as white women, a trend that will be most likely be exacerbated by California’s (and any additional state’s) decision to implement the task force’s recommendations.