The death panels aren’t going to come through the front door. They’re going to sneak up on you from behind with piano wire.
On July 29, 2013, a working group for the National Cancer Institute (the main government agency for cancer research) published a paper proposing that the term “cancer” be reserved for lesions with a reasonable likelihood of killing the patient if left untreated. Slower growing tumors would be called a different name such as “indolent lesions of epithelial origin” (IDLE).
Their justification was that modern medical technology now allows doctors to detect small, slow-growing tumors that likely wouldn’t be fatal. Yet once patients are told they have a cancer, many become frightened and seek unnecessary further tests, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.
By redefining the term “cancer,” the National Cancer Institute hopes to reduce patient anxiety and reduce the risks and expenses associated with supposedly unnecessary medical procedures. In technical terms, the government hopes to reduce “overdiagnosis” and “overtreatment” of cancer.
And of course compel doctors to stop recommending expensive “overtreatments” for things that are no longer cancers.
Similarly, the American Medical Association recently voted to declare obesity a “disease.” But as Cato Institute health care analyst Michael Tanner noted, “the AMA’s move is actually a way for its members to receive more federal dollars, by getting obesity treatments covered under government health plans.”
In our Obamacare world, obesity is a serious disease, but cancer isn’t.
With respect to the definition of “cancer,” downgrading some conditions as no longer being “cancer” can and will used to justify reducing “unnecessary” screening tests (e.g., mammograms for women between ages 40-49).
That’s the whole point. The more the government takes over medicine, the more it is driven to reduce costs in order to fund a vast welfare state.
Dr. Milton Wolf, a practicing radiologist who cares for patients with DCIS warns against this Orwellian possibility:
“Health care rationing takes many insidious forms but perhaps the most immoral is for the government to wage a public relations campaign designed specifically to dissuade patients and doctors from seeking available cures for cancer. They scheme to rename cancer, not to cure it, but to deny it exists. These government rationers have calculated that rather than actually treat patients with cancer, it’s cheaper to simply keep them calm… right up to the very end.”
Aren’t we glad that crazy Sarah Palin lady with her death panel rants didn’t get elected. And instead we live with a wise and sane government that fights new wars while renaming them as interventions and cures cancer by renaming it and denying coverage?
Hope. Change. Death.