In recent decades the American Cancer Society had been recommending that women get mammograms annually after age 40, but a government task force has now said that women only need to get them after age 50, and then only every two years.
The new guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is a government panel of doctors, scientists, and medical experts along the lines of the comparative effectiveness board pushed by President Obama as a way to improve health care quality and contain costs. But the new mammogram advice is dividing doctors and triggering pushback from the American Cancer Society, and ultimately causing more confusion among women. This is just a sign of things to come if Democrats get their way and begin to issue more findings on a wider range of medical treatments. And it can only be made worse if future lawmakers decide to require government programs, or policies offered through the government-run exchange, to adopt the panel’s recommendations. While the advice would be non-binding according to current legislation, many policy makers have argued for giving more power to such a board, including Obama’s first choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle.