News | January 13, 2010

Mammograms at 40 Likely Covered in Healthcare Overhaul

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.)

January 13, 2010 - Pressure from women's groups, doctors and imaging-equipment manufacturers may have influenced lawmakers to provide more coverage for mammograms in the final healthcare bill than recommended in the guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

The USPSTF panel had revised mammogram screening guidelines, stating routine mammograms weren't necessary for women in their forties who have normal cancer risk, and pointed to the risks of false positive results.

The Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) responded in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), stating that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients. The recommendations also suggest appropriate utilization of medical imaging modalities such as mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound for breast cancer screening.

At the end of 2009, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) issued an amendment to nullify the USPSTF guidelines and secure mammogram coverage for women starting at age 40. While House lawmakers voted 426-0 for a resolution, saying the task-force guidelines shouldn't be used by insurers to deny coverage for routine mammograms, the Senate is still negotiating whether to approve the amendment. Aides say the Mikulski measure is expected in the final bill.

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