Mammogram Backdown Hurts Health Reform

Sebelius played politics, missed chance to show leadership
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2009 1:50 AM CST
A scientist uses special glasses to review breast images.    (AP Photo/BBN Technologies)

(Newser) – Health secretary Kathleen Sebelius has set back the cause of health care reform in her rush to distance herself from the recommendation of her own department's task force concerning mammograms, writes Steven Pearlstein. The advice that women under 50 shouldn't get annual mammograms was based on science, and Sebelius should have used the opportunity to make the case for evidence-based medicine instead of caving in, Pearlstein writes in the Washington Post.

Sebelius' failure to show leadership will hurt efforts to revamp the health care system based on what really works and what doesn't, Pearlstein writes. She should have announce that implementation of the task force advice would be delayed for a year while consensus was sought among doctors and patients, showing that the administration is committed to reform based on hard evidence, but also sensitive to public opinion, Pearlstein argues.