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Cancer survivors blast conservative ad

From NBC's Ali Weinberg
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and actress Fran Drescher from the CBS sitcom "The Nanny" criticized a new TV ad by the conservative Independent Women's Forum, which cites a study concluding that "government control of health care [in the U.S.] could have meant that 300,000 women with breast cancer might have died."

The report in question was published in 2008 by the British medical journal Lancet, comparing five-year breast cancer survival rates in England, which has government-run health care, with those in the U.S.

Wasserman-Schultz, who like Drescher is a breast-cancer survivor, called the ad's use of the study "the most outrageous scare tactic that I've seen in this debate."

While the IWF ad credits Lancet and the American Cancer Society as producing the study's results, the ACS has since denied endorsing the report. The independent Web site Factcheck.org quotes ACS media advocacy director Steven Weiss as saying: "In addition to the fact that the figure is not a reliable figure, it's not one that we have ever cited; it's not one that we would ever cite."

Drescher also noted another study in the ad, conducted by the Lewin Group, a health-care policy research organization. The group is owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest health insurers.

"This commerical makes such outrageous suggestions. They're total speculation and completely unfounded, and it's funded by a big business health insurance company," Drescher said.

Wasserman-Schultz, a vocal proponent of the public option proposal, also said she would not support a public option "trigger," a new buzzword in the health-care debate that many see as a potential compromise between supporters and opponents of a public option.

"If we get to a point where we're discussing compromise, I don't think that the trigger is the most effective way to deal with it," she said. But Wasserman-Schultz added that her vote on the health-care reform bill would not be dictated solely by the public option issue. "Am I going to engage in 'my way or the highway' politics? Not after my 16 years as a legislator," she said.