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USPSTF Mammography Recommendations Should Be Specifically Excluded From Health Care Reform Legislation
Date:11/24/2009

Changes Must Be Made to USPSTF Representation and Recommendation Process

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Several sections of Senate health care reform legislation contain language stipulating that insurance entities such as private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid would only be required to cover services receiving a specific grade from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Presently, this would exclude mammography services for women 40-49, would only require coverage of biennial (every other year) coverage for women 50-74, and exclude coverage for those 74 and older. While these USPSTF recommendations may result in cost savings, a great many women will die unnecessarily from breast cancer as a result.

"This is not a political argument. It is a matter of life and death. Congress needs to act to specifically protect annual mammography coverage for women ages 40 and older and for high risk women under 40 as recommended by their physician," said James H. Thrall, M.D., FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Board of Chancellors. "If the cost cutting USPSTF mammography recommendations are not excluded from health care reform legislation, the government or private insurers would be permitted to refuse women coverage for this life-saving exam, turning back the clock on two decades of advances against the nation's second leading cancer killer."

The federally funded and staffed Task Force includes representatives from major health insurers, but does not include a single radiologist, oncologist, breast surgeon, or any other clinician with demonstrated expertise in breast cancer diagnosis or treatment. Despite demonstration by their own analyses that screening annually beginning at age 40 saves the most lives and m
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