AACU Supports Introduction of USPSTF Reform Legislation

2017-02-02 | , AACU Executive Office

On February 1, 2017, the AACU submitted letters to Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) expressing support for H.R. 539, the “USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act of 2017.”

In all, this bill would promote greater accountability and enhanced transparency from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of primary care physicians and academics that reviews medical practices to see whether they are supported by research and evidence.

The USPSTF

The USPSTF is an independent panel of medical professionals who use medical evidence to make recommendations about preventive care services such as screenings, counseling services and preventive medications. The USPSTF plays a critical role in preventive care because its recommendations dictate what preventive services many health plans must provide without cost sharing.

However, because medical specialists play no official role in the recommendation process and Task Force members do not always meet with relevant stakeholders during the review process, many have criticized the USPSTF for its lack of accountability and called for greater transparency. Moreover, a number of USPSTF recommendations, including its 2012 recommendation against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) based screening for prostate cancer for all men regardless of risk, have raised additional concerns regarding their adverse impact on access to appropriate preventive care.

AACU Letter of Support

The AACU expressed its support of H.R. 539 in letters written to Representative Marsha Blackburn, the bill’s sponsor, and Representative Bobby Rush, an original cosponsor. The letters touched on the following points:

  • We support the bill in its attempt to address the issues with the USPSTF by enhancing transparency and increasing public input during the development of USPSTF recommendations.
  • We agree with the bill’s provisions that require the USPSTF to publish research plans to guide its systematic review of evidence relating to the effectiveness of preventive services and that allow the public to comment on reports regarding such evidence.
  • We agree with the bill’s provisions that require the codification of the USPSTF grading system to prevent changes from occurring without appropriate review.
  • We support the bill’s establishment of a preventive services stakeholders board to advise it on developing, updating, publishing, and disseminating evidence-based recommendations.
  • We strongly believe that these changes will improve USPSTF processes and will affirm the validity of its recommendations, thereby improving healthcare for the American people.

Additional Resources