GOP: Mammography Recommendations a Sign of Things to Come

"I'm saying, very powerfully, ignore them," said Healy on "FOX News Sunday." "Women in their 40s have a very aggressive kind of breast cancer. They tend to progress fast. And to not screen women in that age group is astounding to me, and it goes against the bulk of individuals who are actually caring for patients," Healy said.

Healy called the recommendations "hidden government rationing", since the USPSTF is sponsored by the research arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, even though it is an independent panel consisting of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care.

USPSTF's mission includes making "recommendations about which preventative services should be incorporated routinely into primary medical care and for which populations," according to its Web site.

"The issue here is that we are listening to one voice. And unlike what the secretary [Sebelius] said . . . this is not just a recommendation. This is codified in law that this is the group that will be providing information," she said.

"I think you could get the answer you want and the orientation you want depending upon who was on the task force," said Healy, who served as an adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The debate among health professionals over the benefits of mammography testing for breast cancer dates back to more than 40 years. Since then, scientists have disagreed over whether there was significant benefit for women aged 40 to 49 undergoing mammography. In 2002, the USPSTF issued a "B" recommendation for screening mammography for women 40 years or older.

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