Breast Cancer Controversy: Will Reform Impose Guidelines?

By Jennifer Parker

Nov 22, 2009 10:40am

That's a key question we debated today on "This Week."

Democrats say that their bill will expand preventive care coverage and prevent insurance company bureaucrats from getting between patients and doctors.  Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told me the bill could lead to rationing coverage. 

But what’s in the bill?  The Senate legislation does seem to expand preventive care, but the bill also has language that could give the guidance of the Preventive Service Task Force the force of law. 

As I pointed out, the bill provides coverage for care that the task force has given grade of “A” or “B,” but this week’s new breast cancer guidelines give yearly mammograms for women between ages 40 and 50 a grade of “C,” meaning they would not have to be covered. 

Breast cancer survivor Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told me that language needs to come out of the bill and the task force recommendation “won’t be controlling” in the final bill.  Wasserman Schultz’s office called to add that HHS Secretary Sebelius would have the authority to override any recommendation by the task force.

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