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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) currently exercises unaccountable influence to restrict access to effective preventive care without consulting patients or specialists in the management of related conditions. The AUA is actively working with lawmakers to move forward to reform this body, creating transparency and accountability while also adding input and feedback from patients and specialists involved in treating the conditions for which recommendations are being developed. In 2012 and 2013, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) introduced the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act, which is strongly supported by the AUA and other urologic groups.
What You Should Know
USPSTF recommendations on myriad clinical preventive health services create confusion among patients and the primary care community. For example, in May 2012 the USPSTF recommended against the prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) based screening for prostate cancer for all men, regardless of risk. This decision counters the informed opinion of expert physicians and years of public awareness campaigns undertaken by patient groups to encourage detection of the disease at its most manageable state. The insulated USPSTF process disallows meaningful contributions from medical specialists and the public who, in this case, would have provided evidence on the benefit of PSA-based screening in vulnerable populations including African Americans and men with a family history of the disease.
Section 2713 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act grants USPSTF recommendations the force of law, making them de facto mandates on which services private plans and public programs, such as Medicare, must reimburse. Having been empowered in this way, it is essential that this advisory panel be subject to greater transparency and accountability.
What the AUA is Doing
What You Can Do
Visit the AUA Advocacy Center for updates on alerts and calls to action on this issue.