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I about fell over today when Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana declared
himself concerned about 'threats' to women's breast care under the
health reform bill. Vitter? The uberconservative known primarily for
his close ties to a D.C. prostitution ring?
I was laughing so hard I couldn't hear all he said. Maybe he offered
free manual breast exams: "Not just for free--I'll pay you!"

Picture 1.pngOpponents have a new slogan every day in the Senate debate on the
health reform bill. Yesterday was "They're Killing Medicare" day, with
the argument that cutting gross overpayments to
the private, for profit Medicare Advantage plans would (gasp!) strip
seniors of crucial extra benefits (the free gym memberships?).

Today, it was breasts, breasts, breasts. One white-haired man after
another hopping up to say how deeply, deeply concerned he is and always
was about womens' preventive health. And how worried he was that the
the reform bill, which would vastly expand preventive care, would put
"an unelected bureaucrat" between "a woman and her doctor.

The critics were focusing on a recommendation
by a federal health advisory panel of vounteer scientists and
doctors--appointed by President Bush--that said the evidence of benefit
from mammograms below age 40 is slim. It wasn't a regulation, and it
was based on science. But it was somewhat controversial, and was
grabbed by the enemies of reform. They ignored thoroughly the
expansions of women's health in the bill, mainly by offering free
preventive care and insuring millions more women.

The longest drone of the day was by Sen Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a
physician. He talked about a woman whose breast cancer he discovered,
but never said how the bill would have prevented that. Yet he
concluded, "If I had not stuck that needle in Sheila, she would not
have gotten that 12 years of life. She was not deferred or denied by a
government agency."

Oh, right. And the saintly Blue Cross, Anthem, Aetna and Kaiser never delay or deny any kind of care that a doctor would like to recommend. And of course they never deny anyone health insurance altogether. Or sell "insurance" that isn't worth the paper it's written on. Or cancel your insurance if you get sick.

So obviously the fear and smear campaign remains in high gear. It's easy to tear down, much harder build.