H.Res. XX: Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives regarding guidelines for breast cancer screening for women ages 40 to 49

H.Res. XX

Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives regarding guidelines for breast cancer screening for women ages 40 to 49

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

December 16, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Bill Summary

H.Res. XX would express the sense of the House of Representatives that:

  • "The guidelines of the United States Preventive Services Task Force ("USPSTF") would not prohibit an insurer from providing coverage for mammography services in addition to those recommended by the USPSTF and should not be used by insurers to deny coverage for services that are not recommended on a routine basis; and
  • "The National Cancer Institute should continue to invest and provide leadership regarding research to develop more effective screening tools and strategies for improving detection and breast cancer."



In a widely publicized move, the Preventive Services Task Force on November 16 revised and updated its mammography guidelines.  As the resolution notes in its whereas clauses, the new guidelines "reflect a change from USPSTF mammography recommendations issued in 2002," specifically in downgrading the recommendation that women age 40 to 49 automatically receive screening mammograms as a preventive measure.  The resolution also notes that "the new guidelines have caused concern among many health providers and confusion among many women age 40 to 49," not least because the American Cancer Society and other outside groups still recommend mammography screening for women in their 40s.

While the Sense of Congress language in the resolution notes that the Task Force recommendations should not be used to deny coverage for non-recommended services, many may note that Section 222(b) of the Pelosi health bill (H.R. 3962) would require insurers to cover only services recommended by the Task Force as part of the "essential benefits package."  Moreover, government-run insurers have already used the Task Force recommendations to reduce coverage; earlier this month, California announced that it was ending coverage of mammograms for women in their 40s as a result of the revised guidelines, which independent experts called a way to "save money by taking away a cancer detection program."  Therefore, notwithstanding the resolution's language, many may be concerned that the Task Force's guidelines could be used as a rationale for government to ration access to care based on cost grounds.