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HHS Task Force Mammogram Recs Slammed

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Cancer doc (left) tops bureaucrat (right) on cancer recs (WUSA).

HHS Head Sibelius Says, Ignore Panel, Get Checked

Michael Collins

"The (task force) recommends against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years." U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, Nov. 17, 2009

"My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you." Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, Nov. 18.

Talk about a short news cycle. A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appointed "best practices" task force dismissed the value of "routine" mammograms as a cancer prevention technique for women 40 to 49 years on Tuesday, November 17.

A day later, Wednesday, Nov. 18, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement dismissing the committee recommendations.

'The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations.

"They do not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government." Kathleen Sebelius, Nov. 18.

The committee is made up of independent practitioners but operates under the sponsorship of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HHS. The agency states that their task force "recommendations have formed the basis of the clinical standards for many professional societies, health organizations, and medical quality review groups."

Sebelius didn't care. Amidst Republican outcries that this was the way Democratic sponsored health reform would operate, she issued her terse statement dismissing the dismissal of mammography for women 40 to 49.

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