No Change To Mammography Screening Policy

June 4, 2015

[Updated with videos] The bill that will be debated tomorrow will be one that does not change the current policy on the coverage for mammography screening, Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment Jeanne Atherden said this evening [June 4].

This change from the Government comes after days of debate about the proposed changes, a petition that garnered over 1600 signatures, as well as a protest this evening on the Cabinet grounds.

The Minister was speaking at the “Bras For A Cause” protest at the Cabinet grounds this evening, and she has confirmed that she will be introducing an amendment to the Health Insurance Amendment [miscellaneous] Bill that will not change the current policy on the coverage for mammography screening.

Video of Health Minister Jeanne Atherden speaking at the protest this evening

Minister Atherden said, “Let me first thank all of you for taking the time to demonstrate how concerned you are about this issue. The increased awareness of women, in particular, around our healthcare issues is critical.

“I want to assure you that I hear and understand your concerns. I have been listening and discussing these issues with various groups and this has been very productive.

“Tomorrow’s debate will focus on the positive changes we are making to the standard health benefit. Rest assured, your concerns will be taken fully into account.

“I believe we have a unique opportunity to achieve an even greater awareness of all of the issues and encourage the women of Bermuda to start a conversation with their doctors about what is best for them.

Slideshow of today’s protest

Minister Atherden added, “Part of the development of policy involves creating an understanding around why we Institute changes and how they will benefit the people.

“I intend to take the opportunity to do that and so the bill to be debated tomorrow will be one that does not change the current policy on the coverage for mammography screening.

“This has always been about clinical guidelines and adopting an approach that empowers women to make choices based on their individual needs and in consultation with their physicians to improve their health outcomes and reduce their risks.”

Update: Video of one of the protest organisers, Coral Wells, speaking to the crowd

Update 8.33pm: Shadow Health Minister Kim Wilson said, “As Shadow Health Minister, I have become very familiar with the various recommendations on mammography and the benefits of early detection of breast cancer.

“Therefore, I am very pleased that the government has backed down from amending the Standard Health Benefit legislation where mammograms are concerned.

“Various organizations and individuals presented their views and I thank them for standing up for this cause so dear to so many Bermudian residents.

“There needs to be wider consultation and the OBA government needs to stop trying to force legislation through without consulting the stakeholders and the experts.

“We are very pleased with this outcome, however, it did not have to go this route had the government acted collaboratively and in the public’s best interest.”

Update: Video comments from Shadow Minister of Health Kim Wilson

“This shows and this is confirmation that the peoples’ voices have been heard,” Shadow Minister of Health Kim Wilson told Bernews.

“I’m very, very humbled by the fact that government decided to listen to the people and they’ve decided to remove that particular provision from the legislation.

“I have to commend all of the women, and men, that have lobbied around and through petitions or rallies, or any involvement that they’ve had, that have just showed that this is an exact indictment of the power for the people.

“Tomorrow we’ll debate the bill and as I understand from the Minister, she will remove section five, which was the offending portion of the act, that deals with the mammographies and the guidelines and so forth. I think it’s a good decision.

“I think that there’s a number of people that questioned not so much the validity of the task force recommendations, but that there was a number of questions surrounding it insofar as their lack of evidence, their lack of scientific evidence, their lack of statistics as it relates to women of African descent.

“There were a number of questions. There were more questions than answers that were found in this task force report. I’m glad that the government adhered to, and listened to the people. I think it’s a good day.

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Comments (57)

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  1. Kangoocar says:

    Bermuda!!! Meet Greece!!!! Can’t wait to see the reaction of the BDA population when they are told, sorry your bermuda $$$ are not accepted to buy food, air travel, or anything for that matter?!!! Hunger I hear is not pleasant!!! Oh sorry, I forgot to mention, if those that actually have breast cancer need treatment overseas??? Refer back to to what I said already!!! Are people really this stupid????

    • Smh says:

      Oh but people who supported this legislation as well as the government said that “this legislation will not result in savings for the government” because they were arguing that it was being done with support of the hospital and NOT as a cost cutting measure!!!!!

      So who was lying?

      • Kangoocar says:

        You obviously don’t understand do you?? This really has nothing to to do with the government saving money, it has EVERYTHING to do with insurance company costs!! In the end, if their costs keep skyrocketing they will pass it on as they always do to thier customers, which means US!!! And in the end, when you know longer can afford to pay their rates, you will not have any INSURANCE!!!! This all leads to debts that will eventually make our $$$$ worth nothing!!! and you will not get the medical care you need anyway!!! I hope you understand now??? Again this is not an OBA or plp issue, it is a BDA issue!!!!

        • Varied says:

          What’s your response though to those who will say, “My health is far more important than the insurance companies saving money”?

          • Zevon says:

            It isn’t the insurance companies who pay. It’s the policyholders. Who will now be paying for unnecessary tests.

        • ya mama says:

          Who cares. insurance is a competitive industry, you can’t really think that every single insurance company will just give up raise fees and lose customers? Of coursE you do, because you are a simple idiot who thinks that this government does everything it can for theb people when it is clear that they fo not.

          • Zevon says:

            You’re the simple idiot.
            How many choices of health insurers are in Bermuda?

            • Ya mama says:

              You tell me. And who said the insurers had to be based in Bermuda to insure Bermudians? I mean we have literally hundreds of insurers based locally that don’t insure one single Bermudian. Soooooo I think that means that my above statement was correct, what insurance company will be willing to lose customers hence money because of this?

              • Kangoocar says:

                Hahahahahahaha, if I compared your intelligence to a bag of rocks, I would be insulting the bag of rocks!!! Please tell everyone you were not serious with that comment?? Also I would like to meet the four people that actually agreed with your nonsense???

            • Ya mama says:

              Zevon has to be a paid OBA blogger, I mean really, the person with the blackest name on Bernews is a blind OBA follower….. Nice try OBA.

    • Mockingjay says:

      @ Kangoocar, Boo hoo hoo, Ill be the first to wave to you at the airport when you leave.

    • Mockingjay says:

      Nice diversity of protesters, would be nice to see this at ALL protest’s.

      • Starting Point says:

        Well I agree to the point that when a rally does not reflect this diversity it is actually a political agenda masquerading as a rally.

        Thanks for highlighting the hypocrisy of the recent PLP/BIU rallies and marches

        welcome to the team !

        • Mockingjay says:

          Has always been like that in Bermuda IF you have the slightest clue about our colorful HISTORY.

    • ya mama says:

      Kangoocar you are so stupid. Don’t you know that for every bermuda dollar printed a US dollar is printed to back it? We don’t use BDA dollars for anything our money is a pretty representation of US money.

      Also what of Greece? Last I heard they told their lenders to take a piss and the rest of Europe has been trying to scrape up money to keep the evil fraudulent system that exist in Europe in place. Greece is winning.

      • Zevon says:

        What an absolute moron you are.

      • Kangoocar says:

        Ya mama, if you seriously beleive what you just wrote, ( which I think you do? ) you are beyond help with anything to do with finances!!! Sadly there is obviously a lot more of you out there??? BDA should be very proud of education system, if that is what it produces??? Don’t worry though, there is new school opening soon, it is called the school of hunger and pain!!! Enjoy your time there!!!

        • Ya mama says:

          Question kangoocar (with a name like that it leads be to believe that you are an entitled soccer mom that doest work and never had to) did anything I say in the above comment ring as false? A. Our money has been backed by US money since we adopted the dollar monetary system fact. B. Syrzia told the EU to literally piss off, as well as spains people party and Argentina also told us creditors to take a piss as well, these countries are in fact doing wonderful since and hence are Winning.

          I’m done moron.

          • Kangoocar says:

            I bet you would!!! You obviously can’t take the sting the truth I deliver to you almost everyday gives you, can you???

        • Ya mama says:

          Guess your kids are private schooled huh? Wish I was so entitled

          • umum says:

            You are entitled.
            I’m guessing you weren’t schooled at all.

          • Toodle-oo says:

            *Guess your kids are private schooled huh? Wish I was so entitled *

            You too can be ‘entitled’ if you make lots of sacrifices and know the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and spend your money accordingly .

            If you took the time to examine the racial makeup of 1/2 of the local private school students it would blow your ‘entitlement’ theory out of the water because you’d accidentally be pointing your finger at a whole lot of people who you wouldn’t expect. Are they people who would consider themselves ‘entitled’ ?

      • jt says:

        Wow….just wow….

  2. I agree Kangoocar 100%. Yes time will tell as it does in all events…

    • Mockingjay says:

      Say’s the two blind followers.

      • Ed Case says:

        Mocku: Yo’u should’ l’e'a’r'n how to punct’ua’te.

      • Mockingjay, I’ll play your game. Tell us, what is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile other than the spelling…If you know that then you know what a democracy is.

  3. Alvin Williams says:

    The sun after all will continue to rise in the East and the people will continue to prevail despite their detractors disappointment.

  4. Just a matter of time says:

    Once again well done Minister!

    To those who continue to foam at the mouth against pulling this callous piece of legislation….

    I am so glad the women in your life are able to continue getting the opportunity at early detection (without dipping in their own pocket) rather than discover a terminal Stage 4 growth two years later. If you want insurance cost savings which is your sole blind focus then seek it in other Standrd Hospital Benefits directly related to bad lifestyle behavior like smoking or excess drinking or whatever. Don’t you get it now? Not this!

    • filobedo21 says:

      @Just a Matter of time, it just shows how little you know about this subject. early detection at Stage 4 Breast Cancer, that is not early detection. this could only happen is a woman has not been getting yearly checkups with her OBGYN, and in that case she would not be at Stage 4. At that point having a mammogram would be a redundant procedure, she is ready for the surgeon’s knife. Can we please have an intelligent discussion. If women continue to neglect their care of our bodies, we will still continue to be treated at the end stage of cancer instead of at the early stage and therefore have a better chance of survival, with or without mammograms. I would have liked to have seen the Minister give us some statistics such as to the number of breast cancer patients there have been, at what stage, if it was early detection etc etc and the survival rate. At the moment we have seen or heard nothing. I could have predicted that the OBA would have reversed their stance, have to wonder if it was even worth taking this on. Now what I hope happens if there be more education takes place, but still there will be those who will not take charge of their own health. Sigh.

  5. Just a matter of time says:

    Oh and of course a HUGE Well Done and thanks to all of those involved in this historic protest movement Without them this piece of legislation most likely would have gone through. Never underestimate the power of the people!

  6. Cranberry says:

    There are other areas where bigger savings can be made… size of the civil service for one…

  7. Casual Observer says:

    “There needs to be wider consultation and the OBA government needs to stop trying to force legislation through without consulting the stakeholders and the experts.”

    I am pretty sure that the Chief of Staff at KEMH, the BHB and Bermuda’s 2 oncologists all agreed with the recommendation. There was also consultations held with the Bermuda Medical Association.

    So Ms. Wilson stop misleading people. The experts were in deed consulted and the actual cancer experts agreed with the proposed recommendations.

    • Onion says:

      You are on fire.

      The Minister did nothing more than take experts’ advice.

  8. Barbara Cooper says:

    – goes to show, if you want something done, ask a woman to do it !
    Well done gals (and bras) !

  9. watching says:

    Well done to Kim Wilson for ensuring the public knew these changes were in the bill, as the OBA did no prior consultation and tried to slip it in the health care amendment act last week. Had Ms Wilson not raised the alarm it would have likely been law this week. So kudos to Ms. Wilson. Also kudos to the organisers of the Bras for a Cause. Nice to see protests across racial lines and political lines, but on the issues.

    • Onion says:

      The OBA did substantial consultation with the island’s medical community – in fact the doctors were the ones who suggested this change. Kim Wilson is misleading people.

      • watching says:

        They clearly did not consult the obstetricians and gynecologist, and no statement ever came out from the family practice physicians in support or against, so it is unlikely that they were consulted at all. it seems that the only people consulted were the oncologists and the CEO of KEMH who pretty much has to be on board with it. Yes their opinions are valid, but they are not the only medical professionals.

        • Politricks says:

          “The goal to adopt international screening guidelines in Bermuda emerged through a Health Council collaboration with local physician leaders: the Bermuda Medical Doctors’ Association [BMDA], the Bermuda Medical Council [BMC], the Bermuda Hospitals Board [BHB], and the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment.”

          The other day you complained about the lack of cancer specialists making the decision.

          Now that it has been known that the 2 on island oncologists (cancer specialists) agreed with the recommendations and worked in tandem with the noted organisations above you use non-cancer specialists to

          And the fact that you are trying to bring in the Chief (not CEO) of Staff’s professional integrity by claiming he has just to go with the flow and against his medical expertise is just wrong.

          Politics rots the brain.

          • Politricks says:

            *bring into the Chief of Staff’s integrity into question*

        • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

          Let’s see, topic is cancer.
          Who am I going to listen to more.
          Obgyn or an oncologist?

  10. watching says:

    On another note, where was Michael Dunkley?
    I think I saw GP1 at the Astwood Dickinson reopening. Nice to know that was more important than Bras for a Cause.

    • Tough Love says:

      Don’t you know by now that Dunkley doesn’t do negative press appearances? He only likes happy camera opportunities. Or maybe he thought this was “an f-ing waste of time”.

  11. Just a matter of time says:

    @filobedo21 “..early detection at Stage 4 Breast Cancer, that is not early detection..”

    I never said that. Reread my post again and try not to rush it this time.

  12. Just a matter of time says:

    @filobedo21 “ just shows how little you know about this subject. early detection at Stage 4 Breast Cancer, that is not early detection..”

    That’s not what I said. Reread my comment again and the context in which it was given before you rush to judgment. Thanks.

  13. Just a matter of time says:

    sorry this got posted twice because I was unsure if the first one went through.

  14. CURIOUS says:

    I wonder if the men commenting on here have to get their nuts squashed? or if the shoe was on the other foot would they feel the same way. And yes I understand the costs of high insurance as it comes out my check as well

  15. Two Societies and Two Rules says:

    Amazing Island, if this process had been led by an Organisation with a black spokesperson (and without a sizeable amount of white supporters) the OBA would simply have ignored the protest and steam rolled ahead.

    Watch and learn people, at least the OBA is scared of losing support from their own base

  16. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    While I understand why the screening part was pulled, it is a major change to an old mindset and if you don’t educate the public first, things like this will bring out protest from people because it is such an emotional topic for many, I think doing so was a major mistake.

    Now, not only will our health insurance costs increase, but extra money we don’t have will be spent attempting to educate the populations to present day medical knowledge and technology, by which time, likely standards will have again changed.

    In the end, self check monthly, screen at the frequency that suits your risk or makes you feel better, and support those who are dealing with the illness.

    • concerned says:

      In the end, self check monthly, screen at the frequency that suits your risk or makes you feel better, and support those who are dealing with the illness.

      Totally agree Rhonnie – we should be in the schools teaching our pre-teens and teens and young adults about this as many are stressed, many are smoking, drinking, having sex to early

      I had my mammograms every year soon after having one I found a lump in my breast diagnosed stage 3 God blocked it living for my children and my Lord

  17. Not again !!! says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if this was yet again, another PLP political ploy

  18. Common Sense says:

    The more $ the insurance companies have to pay out—- the higher the premiums will be. The important thing is that we are cost effective.