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ROB JENKINS: People should reconsider government-controlled health care

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Those of us who have been scratching our heads, wondering what's so wrong with our nation's health care system that it has to be blown up like a "MythBusters" dummy, finally have our answer.

Apparently, the problem with health care is that... we have too much of it.

In recent weeks, two national health organizations — one with government ties, the other left-leaning — have "recommended" that women undergo fewer potentially life-saving cancer screenings — all while the government's attempted takeover of the health care system is being hotly debated on Capitol Hill.

Does anyone really think that's a coincidence?

First, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said that women should start having regular mammograms at 50 instead of 40 and that they should get them every two years instead of annually.

Both recommendations represent a clear reversal of guidelines issued by the same Task Force just seven years ago. They also contradict the advice offered by other prominent health organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology.

Then the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) did a similar about-face. Up until last week, the organization wanted women over 20 to get a Pap smear every year. Now they've decided it's OK to wait two years between tests.

If you're wondering where ACOG stands on the current health care debate, look no further than the organization's Web site, which lists "providing universal [health care] coverage" as one of its primary goals.

ACOG also released a statement following the 2007 Supreme Court ban on partial birth abortions, arguing that the decision would "gravely endanger the health of women."

To determine if that rhetoric passes the hypocrisy test, ask yourself this: Do you think more women will die from being denied partial birth abortions or from cervical cancer that wasn't detected early enough due to fewer screenings?

Finally, we have the swine flu vaccine debacle. Back in July, federal health officials announced that 160 million doses would be available by the end of October. It's now nearly December, and by the government's own admission, only about 30 million people have been vaccinated. Nationwide, shortages have led many simply to shrug their shoulders and take their chances.

Meanwhile, more people in this country have died from the swine flu than from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

So, to recap, we have a government organization and a left-wing interest group providing rationale for federal bureaucrats, once we've nationalized health care, to deny women access to tests that might save their lives. At the same time, people are dying because the government cannot deliver on what it promised five months ago.

Clearly, those who don't believe government-controlled health care will ultimately lead to rationing — either intentional or due to sheer incompetence — need to reconsider.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.