We’ve already posted on the new California rules on mammograms. But we can’t help reflecting that in the light of what seems to be a bill falling apart, Senate Democrats must wish the timing had been different. California’s November announcement that the state will no longer regard women under 50 as eligible for state-subsidized mammograms is a bad break for Democrats. Coming on the heels of that unpopular federal recommendation against mammograms for younger women, this is bad PR for those who want to support increased government involvement in health choices. “We are getting into rationing of health care and screening services,” a medical services official was quoted saying in the North Country Times. No kidding. Nearly 5,000 women in one California county will be affected.

Some preventative practices work better than others—mammograms are really, really effective at saving the lives of women. A Wall Street Journal piece noted last month:

Since regular mammography became standard practice in the early 1990s, mortality from breast cancer—the second leading cause of cancer death among American women—has dropped by about 30%, after remaining constant for the prior half-century. But this week the 16-member task force ruled that patients under 50 or over 75 without special risk factors no longer need screening.

So what changed? Nothing substantial in the clinical evidence. But the panel—which includes no oncologists and radiologists, who best know the medical literature—did decide to re-analyze the data with health-care spending as a core concern.

 “The panel” refers to the federal panel that put out the new, not until 50 guidelines.