Senate Health Committee Likely To Hold Hearing On New Mammogram Guidelines

Roll Call reports that 22 senators have written the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee asking its leaders to hold hearings on controversial new mammogram guidelines. "The letter came less than a week after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended looser guidelines for breast cancer screenings. The task force suggested that women wait until they turn 50 to begin screening and then undergo one mammogram every two years instead of every year." Women in their 40s should forgo the procedure unless their doctor recommends it, the task force recommended (Brady, 11/24).

The Washington Independent reports: "'These recommendations, which have been widely criticized by patients and doctors alike, could prove devastating for women at risk of breast cancer,' the lawmakers wrote to Sens. Tom Harkin (D- Iowa) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee." The letter — which was signed by 14 Republicans and eight Democrats — also says early detection of breast cancer from mammograms is crucial. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., has said he will hold a similar hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee's health subcommittee next month. (Lillis, 11/24).

CQ HealthBeat: "Aides to Harkin said that plans are in the works to schedule a hearing sometime in the near future on the recommendations made Nov. 16 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Two of Harkin’s sisters died of breast cancer and he has long held an interest in efforts to combat the disease" (Norman, 11/24).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.