COVID-19 relief bill delays USPSTF mammo recommendation

2020 07 28 22 54 1763 Breast Mammography Tech 400

A bill passed by the U.S. Congress to provide COVID-19 relief also includes a provision to continue delaying a controversial recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to begin biennial breast cancer screening at age 50.

The proposed law would continue to recognize the 2002 USPSTF guidelines for mammography coverage decisions, which call for breast screening every one to two years starting at age 40. The USPSTF later recommended biennial screening mammography for women ages 50 to 74 in 2009 and reaffirmed that provision in 2016.

The moratorium is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes pandemic relief and funds for the 2021 fiscal year. If signed by President Trump, the law would further delay the task force implementation from December 31, 2021, to December 31, 2022.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) were among the advocates calling for a delay of the task force recommendations. Without the moratorium, mammography insurance coverage and copays for women younger than 50 could be impacted starting January 1, 2022.

The ACR, SBI, and advocacy groups said the potential loss of insurance coverage for annual screening mammograms could be "devastating" for women, especially those from rural and underserved communities. They also noted that delaying mammography screening could particularly impact Black women, who are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 and more likely to die from the disease.

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