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Murkowski Speaks Against Democrats’ Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Nov. 20 that the controversial new guidelines for breast cancer - which say that women in their 40s shouldn't undergo routine mammograms - could become a first step toward rationing under a government run health care system.

"These guidelines could be a kind of peak under the curtain of what we can anticipate with a government run program," Murkowski said at a Senate Republican leadership news conference to discuss the Senate Democrats' health care bill.

Earlier this week, the United States Preventive Service Task Force announced it no longer recommends routine mammogram screening for women between the ages of 40 - 49.

Murkowski, Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference, opposes the Democrats' bill and will vote against a procedural motion on Saturday that, if passed, will clear the way for a floor debate of the bill after Thanksgiving.

Murkowski said the Democrats' bill would give the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to make decisions about what medical procedures would be covered under the kind of federally run insurance program contained in the Democrats' bill.

"Recommendations like this one from the preventive task force can be used by the insurance companies as they make a determination as to what they're going to cover," Murkowski said.

"As a woman I want to be able to consult with my doctor and based on my history know when I should be getting a mammogram. But if the insurance companies will say, 'Sorry, Lisa, you're now over 50 so it's every other year' (for mammogram testing) as opposed to what my doctor thinks I need, that causes me a great deal of concern."

Murkowski said many women are confused by the preventive task force recommendations and with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius afterwards saying that women in their 40s should continue to get mammograms.

"My constituents want to know what they should or shouldn't be doing," Murkowski said. "But the bigger picture here is that the health care bill we're dealing with offers a glimpse into the chaos we could see under a federally run health plan and a massive expansion of the government's role in health care."

Murkowski was scheduled to speak against the bill on the Senate floor Friday evening.

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