Ellmers, Wasserman Schultz Defend Breast Cancer Screenings

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Washington, DC, July 30, 2015 | comments
It is wrong of the USPSTF to write off any young woman in her forties who wants to have a mammogram, and this legislation's two-year moratorium will ensure we hear from the group most affected by these draft recommendations – young women under the age of 50. I am proud to stand with my friend and colleague Renee Ellmers in defending early prevention and detection for breast cancer, and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with us.
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Ellmers and Wasserman Schultz Introduce Legislation to Protect Access to Mammograms for Approximately 22 Million Women Under the Age of 50

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC-02) issued the following statement after introducing H.R. 3339 – the Protect Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act.

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers:

“As a nurse who practiced for more than 21 years, I understand the significance of preventative medicine. Mammography screenings are one of the most important ways we can encourage prevention and help save lives. This is just one reason why today’s legislation is so important, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my friend, and breast cancer survivor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”

“Should the USPSTF’s proposed changes to national breast screening guidelines go into effect, upwards of 22 million women are at risk for losing access to mammograms. Plain and simple, this type of recommendation impairs access to breast cancer screenings and would be detrimental for women’s health in this country.”

“We need to do everything we can to aid women during their fight against breast cancer, but it’s even more essential that we put measures in place for early detection. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this legislation in order to save lives.”

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

“As a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 41, I know how important early prevention and detection is to fighting this disease. The USPSTF’s draft recommendations could endanger insurance coverage for women in their 40s as well as women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Additionally, the draft recommendations will result in many women in their forties who may be at risk, believing that they do not need to be screened until much later in life, potentially resulting in more advanced and later stage diagnoses. The USPSTF has argued that the costs of mammograms for women in this age group outweigh the potential life-saving benefits. Without insurance coverage, we know that many women, especially those from disadvantaged communities and populations, will forgo preventative screenings and tests.”

“It is wrong of the USPSTF to write off any young woman in her forties who wants to have a mammogram, and this legislation’s two-year moratorium will ensure we hear from the group most affected by these draft recommendations – young women under the age of 50. I am proud to stand with my friend and colleague Renee Ellmers in defending early prevention and detection for breast cancer, and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with us.”

Click here to view H.R. 3339 – the Protect Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act.

The legislation would place a two-year moratorium on the USPSTF draft breast cancer screening recommendations. This would allow time for Congress and others to review concerns about the impact these recommendations would have on women being screened for this deadly disease, as well as concerns about the USPSTF process.

Background: In April 2015, the US Preventive Service Task force (USPSTF), an independent advisory arm of HHS, proposed changes to the national breast screening guidelines that would undermine access to mammography for 22 million women between the ages of 40-49, including approximately 2.8 million African American women who have the highest rate of mortality from breast cancer.

If the guidelines are finalized as drafted, health plans will no longer be required to cover mammograms without cost-sharing for women between the ages of 40 and 49. As a note, federal law requires most commercial health plans to cover preventive services with an A or B rating from the USPSTF, without cost-sharing by the patient. If finalized, these changes would not only increase the cost burden, but even more worrisome – it would be a deterrent, resulting in many women not seeking screening at all.

The USPSTF could finalize these guidelines at any time so this legislation is paramount. The PALS Act will place a moratorium on the breast screening draft guidelines to prevent them from being finalized in order to allow time to examine the concerns being raised about the USPSTF process.

Groups who have expressed concern with the USPSTF’s recommendations regarding breast cancer screenings:Bright Pink; Black Women’s Health Imperative; National Hispanic Medical Association; National Medical Association; Prevent Cancer Foundation; FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered; Men Against Breast Cancer Fund; Tigerlily Foundation; Oncology Nursing Society; National Patient Advocate Foundation; National Black Nurses Association; National Consortium of Breast Centers; and Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Click here to learn more.

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