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Should lawmakers play doctor?

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By Becky Barnes

One childhood Christmas memory is receiving a shiny red plastic doctor’s kit. I went from family member to family member looking inside their mouths while they played along with my fantasy career.

I’m beginning to think that we are humoring a group of lawmakers who have no more qualifications to make a diagnosis than I did.

In their fantasy careers, lawmakers believe they should go over the heads of experts to tell the public what’s best for their health care.

I’m more than a little concerned.

My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at a fairly young age. I distinctly remember the hushed conversations of the adults in my family as they talked about her surgery and prognosis for recovery afterwards.

While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for me, it was November. That’s when I had my annual mammogram.

I, like so many other women, began receiving mammograms at age 40. In the 11 years since, while I dread the annual visit, I’m thankful for the technology that gives me peace of mind.

On more than one occasion I have received a letter stating that an abnormality was discovered. The first time such a reading was made I was probably 42 or 43 years old. Because of the history of breast cancer, I was terribly frightened.

This year, I received another letter. Another abnormality. Another test. Another wait for results.

I got that call Monday. There were no cancer cells detected. And then I released the breath that I had been holding for days.

I can’t help but wonder if my grandmother had early mammograms if her outcome could have been different. I wish she were still alive to ask about her medical history. I regret not knowing more.

So, to keep myself healthy, I have to rely on what doctors are saying today.

Specifically, they are saying that women need to have a mammogram annually beginning at age 40.

I would much rather talk to my doctor about my health issues than my congressman.

Granted some of the men and women of congress are doctors, but many are lawyers or experts in other fields. They have no more business governing my health care than I did, when I asked my dad to open wide and say “Ah.”

But, yet, they say mammograms are not needed until age 50.

The health care controversy is not new. However, it is real and it’s not going away.

Whatever your feelings about the issue, make sure your representatives know where you stand.

Sen. Jim Bunning is a former professional baseball player who has a degree in economics. His address is 316 Hart Senate Building, Washington D.C. 20510. His e-mail address is jim_bunning@bunning.senate.gov.

Sen. Mitch McConnell is a lawyer who has made a career out of politics, beginning with a county judge-executive position. His address is 361A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510.

Rep. Geoff Davis is a former Army ranger and business advisor. He can be contacted at 1108 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-1704.

A baseball player, career politician and business advisor, do we really think they should be legislating mammograms?