Yet another group has come out publicly against the latest United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft breast screening recommendations.
The GOP Doctors Caucus—a group of 18 medical providers from Congress—wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell detailing its “serious concerns” about the USPSTF’s recommendations.
“These draft recommendations are not only inconsistent with current clinical practice, but could also result in thousands of additional breast cancer deaths if followed,” the group wrote.
The letter goes on to say that if the recommendations become finalized, they would have a “chilling effect” on mammogram coverage and put the health of American women in jeopardy.
Back in April, the USPSTF recommended biennial mammograms for women ages 50 to 74 by giving it a "B" rating. At the same time, it gave mammograms for women ages 40-49 (along with annual mammograms for women of any age) a "C" rating. This is significant because under the Affordable Care Act, any services given an "A" or "B" rating by the USPSTF must be covered by individual health plans without cost sharing.
The GOP Doctors Caucus joins the the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging, who had previously released a joint statement, in calling out the recommendations. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) wrote a letter to Burwell just days later.
Some physicians have showed support for the USPSTF’s stance, suggesting such a perspective would do more good for women than the breast density reporting bills being passed across the U.S. Meanwhile, data shows that breast surgeons don't always listen to the recommendations, instead going with their own beliefs when speaking to patients about screening schedules.
In its statement about the GOP Doctors Caucus, the ACR pointed out that the House Appropriations Committee recently passed a fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill. The bill states that the HHS can’t use federal funds to issue final USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations.