Last week we covered the new guidelines put out by the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force that recommended that women cut back on their mammograms and additionally not to start them until age 50 vs. 40 which had been the accepted start age for decades.
We also noted how the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told everyone to pay no never mind to the Task Forces recommendations as they were merely guidelines and that the charges of rationing were just overheated rhetoric.
So, which is it? If Sebelius is telling everyone to carry on with the at-40/twice a year regimen, then what the hell good is this task force and why shouldn’t we be concerned that this just represents the blueprint for healthcare services rationing?
Well, guess who shows up in the Senate version of healthcare and is charged with determining what sort of medical procedures are covered under Obamacare. Yep, it’s our friends at the U.S.P.S.T.F.
Let’s roll the tape (for the sake of expedience and our own sanity, we’re transcribing from the .pdf file here, sans paragraph numbering and indentations.
From Section 2713 COVERAGE OF PREVENTIVE HEALTH SERVICES:
In General – A group health plan and a health insurer offering a group or individual health insurance coverage shall provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements for –
Evidence-based items or services that have in effect a rating of “A” or “B” in the current recommendations of the United States Preventative Services Task Force;
Stop right there. That’s all we need to read, thank you.
By the way, the task force members that recommended the new screening guidelines for mammograms? Not a single one of them was an oncologist.
So a politically-appointed task force that heretofore was only making "recommendations" that we were told to disregard and which may or may not have any relevant professional experience in a particular medical field will be rendering what preventative services will and will not be covered by your healthcare plan. Aren't you feeling healthier already?
Over the next couple of weeks, time permitting, we hope to get into more of the fine print of the Senate health bill that will be debated next week.