The great hue and cry about rationing and about socialized medicine has begun following Medicare's decision yesterday that it would not pay for so-called "virtual" colonoscopies.
The agency concluded that "the evidence is not sufficient to conclude that screening CT colonography improves health benefits for asymptomatic, average risk Medicare beneficiaries."
I haven't seen one news account yet, though, that actually explored in detail what that evidence was.
This was a bold move by Medicare administrators - in the face of intense industry pressure to approve the scans.
The American College of Radiology has posted a statement that says the decision will "cost lives" and mentions a study but doesn't address the very issue that Medicare acted on - evidence in "asymptomatic, average risk Medicare beneficiaries." The ACR statement then even plays the race card, saying the test "can help overcome the disparity in colorectal care that exists in minority communities."
I wish news stories and press releases would skip the rhetoric and explain the evidence. Otherwise the rationing rhetoric is bound to continue - without advancing true public understanding of the issues at play. It's another early bellwether of what any true comparative effectiveness research effort will be up against.