Murkowski Offers Amendment to Keep Government Out of Health Care Coverage Decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced an amendment to the Senate health care bill that would ensure patients receive doctor recommendations for what preventive health services their health insurance plan should cover without interference from government appointed advisers.

“Since the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations against getting mammograms before age 50 came out last month, millions of Americans have become anxious and confused about whether or not they should be getting these potentially lifesaving mammograms,” Murkowski said in a floor speech.

The Democrats’ health care bill under debate in the Senate would tie preventive care services offered by health insurance companies to the recommendations of the USPSTF. Murkowski’s amendment would delete this provision from the bill and would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from using task force recommendations to deny coverage of preventive services, including mammograms and cervical cancer screening.

The amendment would usher in a new level of transparency by requiring that insurers must consult the recommendations and guidelines of professional medical organizations in determining what prevention benefits should be covered by all health insurance plans, and require that plans explicitly disclose this information to health care consumers.

“That means doctors and specialists would be recommending what preventive services to cover, not bureaucrats in Washington,” Murkowski said.

The amendment also includes broad protections to prevent bureaucrats at HHS from denying care to patients based on the use of “comparative effectiveness research,” which could prioritize costs over best medical practices.

The amendment would prohibit the HHS secretary from defining or classifying abortion or abortion services as preventive care or as preventive services. This would ensure that abortion could not become a required benefit under the preventive services provisions.

“My amendment addresses the concerns that the government will make coverage determinations for health care decisions,” Murkowski said. “In short, my amendment would keep the government out, keep the doctors in and require insurance companies to disclose information to health care consumers.”

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