Under the Senate bill approved to be moved to the Senate floor this past Saturday night it will be United States Preventive Services Task Force, deciding what tests and procedures getting covered by the government and private health care plans. The US Preventative Services Task Force is not a new agency. The Task Force is part of the Healthcare Research and Quality Agency (AHRQ). The task force is the ‘bean counting part of the Dept. Health and Human Services. AHRQ’s mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The Senate bill makes medical care a matter of cost-effectiveness, not saving lives:
SEC. 2708. COVERAGE OF PREVENTIVE HEALTH SERVICES.
(a) IN GENERAL.—A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements (other than minimal cost sharing in accordance with guidelines developed by the Secretary) for— (1) items or services that have in effect a rating of ‘A’ or ‘B’ in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force; (2) immunizations that have in effect a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with respect to the individual involved; and (3) with respect to infants, children and adolescents, preventive care and screenings provided for in the comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
But wait, you say, it says they have to cover services with a A or B rating it doesn’t say that they don’t have to cover services with a lower rating. True, but when was the last time an insurance company covered a procedure that was considered effective by the government.
If the name United States Preventive Services Task Force sounds familiar that’s because they were the group that made the recent recommendation about mammograms.
The USPSTF recommends against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms. Grade: C recommendation.
Despite what Government Officials said last week to gain approval of the Senate Obamacare debate, under the Harry Reid version of the Obamacare bill, mammograms for women 40-49 will not be covered. Just as bad are the items that the task force is looking at next. They include:
- Cervical Cancer Screening
- Depression in Adults
- Falls in Older Adults
- Hearing Impairment, Older Adults
- Oral Cancer Screening
- Osteoporosis Screening
- Osteoporosis Preventive Medicine
- Ovarian Cancer
- Skin Cancer Counseling
- Vitamin Supplements to Prevent Cancer and CHD
Who knows what treatments will be off limits to insurance coverage next.