Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Hearing on the Preventive Services Task Force

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health

Hearing: Examining the United States Preventive Services Task Force

Witnesses:

  • Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics,
    University of California, San Francisco; Chairperson, US Preventive Services Task Force
  • Dr. John H. Lynch, Chairman and Professor, Department of Urology, Georgetown University
  • Dr. John Meigs, Jr., President, American Academy of Family Physicians

• The hearing was held in part to push a bill from Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), 
Blackburn questioned the effect of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that required health plans to cover highly recommended services at no cost to consumers, suggesting it caused plans to drop certain breast and prostate cancer screenings. 


• Bibbins-Domingo said the panel has no hand in coverage decisions. She insisted the panel only examines medical evidence, not cost, adding that while the panel’s charter allows for the inclusion of cost data, the USPSTF site explicitly states the panel does not. (Blackburn later said she couldn’t find that statement.) 


o “Regardless of how healthcare is financed, the science is essential,” she testified. “Our processes have not changed. They have been the same before the ACA and they have been the same after the linkage was made.”

• Lynch shared details of a patient who received prostate cancer screenings up until USPSTF’s recommendation against them in 2012. Including specialists would compensate for studies that underrepresent certain groups who are more prone to a disease, he said. Bibbins-Domingo said the panel has repeatedly called for including more minorities and highlights any shortcomings in their recommendations. 


• Meigs insisted that primary care physicians are able to make independent decisions with patients based their individual needs, and feared interference on the panel by lobbyists. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a cardiothoracic surgeon, noted that it made sense why specialists were upset about being excluded. 


o “I’m sure our neurology colleagues are more than competent to take care of neurological diseases,” Meigs said. “But the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, their job is to look at the evidence and make recommendations for primary care in screening for primary prevention of diseases. It’s a different concept.”

• Democrats were absent due to party leadership elections.