Mikulski: Measure would give mammogram access at age 40

November 20, 2009|By Meredith Cohn | Baltimore Sun reporter

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Thursday that she will introduce an amendment to the Senate health reform bill guaranteeing women universal access to mammograms beginning at age 40.

The move is a response to new recommendations from an advisory panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which said most woman do not need mammograms until they are 50, and only every two years after that. The mammograms result in too many false positives for women ages 40 to 49 and don't save many lives, the panel said.

The recommendations caused a backlash from patient advocates who believe early detection does save lives and that the recommendations could lead insurers to deny coverage. The nation's health secretary has since backed away from them.

In a statement, Mikulski said the recommendation "attacks the whole concept of preventive services for women. They say we don't need mammograms until we are 50. I believe that where data is conflicting, it is better to be safe than sorry."

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