Who exactly is on the panel of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that came out with new recommendations for breast cancer screening? I wanted to know the answer to that question because I thought the timing was a little suspicious with a health care bill on the verge of possibly passing.
The panel website lists the members and partners on the panel. The page lists first members (which includes 16 medical professionals, none of whom are breast cancer experts), and then three groups of partners:
- primary care partners,
- policy, population, and quality improvement partners
- federal partners.
It was the second group; policy partners, that got my attention. There are three “policy partners” listed, and those are:
- America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
- National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
If the first one on the list rings a bell, it’s because they’ve been in the news a lot lately. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is one of the PAC’s that has been opposed to health care reform legislation. Just yesterday they issued a statement of their opposition to the current legislation in the Senate, which states among other things:
“This proposal encourages people to wait until they are sick to purchase coverage, which will significantly drive up costs for those who are currently insured. The legislation also imposes rating rules that will raise the cost of coverage for millions of young families in more than 40 states.
Curious that they’re on the panel that made these new recommendations against early mammograms, which was released early three days ago, and caught the Obama Administration by surprise (and no one has explained why) and then follow that report by this press release two days later claiming people will have to wait until they’re sick to get care. All of this comes at the time a bill is being debated in the Senate. Is the timing coincidental? I don’t think so. While Republicans are using this panel’s recommendations to scare women into thinking screening guidelines will amount to “breast panels” much like the earlier “death panels” scare tactics makes it even more coincidental. It seems to me that AHIP is gaming the system from both ends in the hopes of blocking reform yet again.
I also found this list of the top contributions to members of congress from America’s Health Insurance Plans, and there were some familiar names on that list, among them: Ben Nelson (D-Neb), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark). The entire list can be found here.