On November 5, the American Cancer Society (ACS) endorsed the health care bill that passed the House on November 7. ACS now seems to be backing away from the endorsement in the face of complaints that it should stay out of politics. Emailers protesting the ACS endorsement are getting this response:
At this time the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is not endorsing HR 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, because it is not in its final stage…ACS CAN will reserve an official endorsement pending review of a final, merged House and Senate bill.
As we previously noted, the ACS endorsement was fraught with risk. ACS is one of the nation’s most trusted and broadly based charities. No doubt, a significant portion of ACS supporters oppose Barack Obama’s health plan.
The endorsement was actually made by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). Dr. John R. Seffrin serves as CEO of both ACS and ACS CAN. ACS CAN cannot claim that it did not endorse the bill. Its November 5 press release reads:
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today announced its support of proposed health care legislation that will be debated this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. In a letter to House leaders, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, said the proposed legislation has the potential to take the fight against cancer in this country to a new level. (emphasis ours)
A November 7 press release celebrated House passage of the bill and reiterated ACS support:
In an historic vote, the U.S. House of Representatives tonight passed legislation that the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) believes has the potential to take the fight against cancer in this country to a new level. ACS CAN, working to advance the mission of the American Cancer Society, announced its support of the House legislation Thursday and will continue to advocate for a final bill that works for families affected by cancer. (emphasis ours)
ACS got a small dose of what government-dominated health care portends for cancer patients when the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced that it is changing its guidelines for mammography and no longer recommends routine screening for women between the ages of 40 and 49. ACS quickly denounced the new guidelines, and continues to urge women to get an annual mammogram starting at age 40.
USPSTF is a task force of the Department of Health and Human Services. It is an advisory body but it is just the kind of entity that will be empowered by the Obama health care plan. As Rep. David Camp (R-MI) put it, “I mean, let the rationing begin.”
ACS made a mistake by wading into the political fight over health care. It should not compound the error by now by seeking to obfuscate it actual role. Because it is one of the nation’s most prominent charities, its first obligation is to be honest with the public.
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