This week, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) and Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) introduced H.R. 2307, the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act). The PALS Act would postpone recent United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations that could severely limit women's access to mammograms. The Congresswomen released the following statements
This week, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) and Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) introduced H.R. 2307, the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act). The PALS Act would postpone recent United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations that could severely limit women’s access to mammograms:
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41, so I know firsthand the importance of ensuring young women have all the information and tools they need to make decisions about their breast health," said Wasserman Schultz. "The National Cancer Institute estimates that breast cancer will take the lives of more than 40,000 women this year, and approximately 10 percent of new cases of breast cancer will be in women under the age of 45. Despite that, the USPSTF guidelines that would go into effect in 2018 would discourage women from getting potentially life-saving mammograms, and put them at risk of losing insurance coverage for mammography. That is why I am proud to introduce the PALS Act with Congresswoman Susan Brooks, which extends the moratorium on these ill-advised guidelines, and also ensures that women veterans treated in the Veterans Health Administration do not face these same obstacles to getting the care they and their health care providers deem necessary. The USPSTF guidelines are an outlier when compared to expert opinions in the cancer treatment and advocacy community. Until there is consensus, women need access to mammography using the guidelines that are most widely accepted.”
“Taking preventative measures, such as having mammogram screenings, are key components to combating a disease that takes the lives of too many Hoosiers and Americans,” said Brooks. “Women of all ages are affected by breast cancer and in many cases, mammograms catch the presence and spread of cancer cells at an early enough stage for the disease to be treated. The USPSTF recommendations planned to go into effect in 2018, put women, especially young women, at risk for losing insurance coverage for essential mammogram screenings that could save their life. Women of all ages should be able to access mammograms when they need them, rather than only at an age or circumstance the USPSTF believes is appropriate. I look forward to working with my friend, and cancer survivor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on this important issue.”
The most recently drafted recommendations from the USPSTF gave annual mammograms for women ages 40-49 a “C” grade, meaning they recommend that screening be performed only selectively, and stated that women between the ages of 50-74 should have mammograms only bi-annually. The USPSTF’s drafted recommendations could have the impact of limiting critical access to lifesaving breast exams for millions of women because insurance companies would no longer be required to fully cover mammograms for women ages 40-49. The PALS Act would continue the moratorium on the breast screening guidelines to prevent them from impacting insurance coverage, in order to allow time to examine the concerns being raised about the USPSTF process.