Pennsylvania Officials Say Insurers Can’t Charge Extra For 3-D Mammograms

Friday, October 9, 2015
The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (10/9) reports that state officials “are giving Pennsylvania insurers until the end of the year to officially revise policies to reflect the state’s position that 3-D mammograms must be available for the same price as older two-dimensional exams.” The article notes a 1992 state law says mammograms must be provided free of charge for women 40 and over. State insurance department spokesman Ron Ruman “says the state’s position is that, for insurance coverage purposes, newer 3-D mammograms are no different than traditional mammograms, and women should face no extra charge.” The 1992 law applies to private health plans sold in Pennsylvania, including ACA coverage. 

Researchers Awarded $2.5M Grant To Develop New Breast Cancer Screening Methods

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
HealthImaging (9/9, Godt) reports that the National Cancer Institute has awarded the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City a $2.5 million grant for the “development of new short-term breast cancer risk prediction models,” which “aim to help increase cancer detection of breast MRI, according to OU.”

Bipartisan Group Working To Overrule USPSTF On Mammograms

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Congressional Quarterly (9/2, Young, Subscription Publication) (9/2, Young, Subscription Publication) reports that a bipartisan group of legislators, including Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), is working to “preserve free mammograms for women in their 40s,” a step that would “effectively reject” the US Preventive Services Task Force’s preliminary conclusion. Much of the debate surrounds the response to finding ductual carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is “a prime driver of concerns about overdiagnosis, the task force said.” Unfortunately, “there’s no way of knowing which cases of DCIS will be harmless and which will turn deadly, said Joshua Cooper, senior director of government relations for the American College of Radiology.” 

Bipartisan Legislation Aims To Maintain Copay-Free Mammograms For Women In Their 40s

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Congressional Quarterly (8/13, Subscription Publication) reports that a bipartisan group of female lawmakers “are working to keep a mandate for insurance companies to cover mammography for women in their 40s free of copay charges, a step intended to again overrule the findings of an influential federal task force.” Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced bills in recent weeks “that would stop the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force from issuing a lukewarm review about the potential benefits of routine mammography for women in their 40s.” In April, the USPSTF released a draft report saying the potential benefits of breast-cancer screening are lower for women in their 40s than for those ages 50 to 74. If the mammography recommendation is finalized, “insurance companies might drop coverage of mammograms for women in their 40s without copays.” 

House Bill Would Overrule USPSTF Panel Recommendations On Mammography Screening For Younger Women

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Bloomberg News (7/30, Tracer) reports that Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) “submitted a bill Wednesday to put a two-year moratorium on a proposal” from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that could “end guaranteed insurance coverage for mammograms for women ages 40 to 49.” In April, a USPSTF panel “said...that the benefits of those screenings may not outweigh harms such as false positives,” though the final recommendations have not been issued yet. If the bill is approved, Bloomberg News adds, “it wouldn’t be the first time Congress has effectively overruled the experts on breast-cancer screening.”