Women’s Health Care Advocates Speak out Against USPSTF for Finalizing Guidelines Despite Legislation Imposing a Two-Year Moratorium on Their Implementation
PALS Act Passed!
We worked hard to make this happen and finally in mid-December Congress passed and the President signed legislation into law that includes the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act! This legislation prevents the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft breast cancer screening recommendations from being implemented for two years. The legislation also provides a two-year “time out”, which will allow for the concerns of young women, breast cancer survivors, the medical and advocacy communities to be addressed, while ensuring women’s continued access to lifesaving mammograms. We would not have done it without support from you! Thanks to your letters, emails and calls, the USPSTF guidelines encountered pushback nationwide, standing up for the millions of women who deserve access to early detection services beginning at age 40. Thank you for your support. We look forward to working with you as we continue to work with stakeholders to ensure young women have the access to lifesaving screening.
Tigerlily Foundation (Tigerlily) has been a participant in a coalition of women’s health groups, voicing our opposition to the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendations on breast screening guidelines. In April 2015, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) proposed new breast cancer screening guidelines that would limit access to mammography for millions of women ages 40 to 49. The draft recommendations give annual mammograms for women ages 40-49 a “C” grade, meaning most women in this age group, according to the Task Force, do not need an annual exam.
Much has happened since the draft guidelines were released. Tigerlily became a sponsor of a change.org petition (www.StoptheGuidelines.com) which has helped to educate women about the issue and to build support for stopping the USPSTF draft guidelines. Nearly 20 clinical/women’s health organizations have stated their opposition to all or some portion of the Task Force’s recommendations. Sixty-three members of Congress joined a bicameral, bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell expressing their opposition to the recommendations. The House of Representatives Doctor’s Caucus (which includes two nurses in its membership) sent its own letter to Secretary Burwell urging her to prevent these recommendations from being finalized.
In July, legislation was introduced in Congress to place a 2 year moratorium on the implementation of the USPSTF draft breast screening guidelines. The bills, HR 3339 and S. 1926, is called the Protect Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act) and was sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Representatives Renee Ellmers, RN (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). We need to help build support for the PALS Act and hope all of you will contact your member of Congress to voice your support. However, the Task Force could finalize the draft guidelines at any time.
On October 20, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued updated breast cancer screening guidelines. These recommendations included increasing the age to start mammogram screenings from 40 to 45 in healthy women at average risk for breast cancer. In addition, the new guidelines increase the time between screenings for women over 55 at average risk from once per year to once every two years.
In addition, at least three other organizations have guidelines on screening mammography age and frequency. These conflicting recommendations, have resulted in much confusion amongst women.
In response to these recommendations and to help increase the visibility around issue, Tigerlily Foundation will be hosting a Breast Screening Advocacy Day on November 16-17. We will be flying in advocates from across the country to participate in meetings with Congressional Members and staffers, to ensure our voices are heard and that the PALS legislation is passed.
PALS Act – Background Information and Documents:
The documents below provide detailed information on the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act S. 1926/ H.R. 3339.